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We were in the Metropolitan Division.

Steuben Parade 2013
Rick Landman.

Link to German



Is It Too Soon For a Jewish Contingent in the Steuben Parade?

By Rick Landman (9/21/2013)

For the 4th time, there was a Jewish Contingent walking in the Steuben Parade to commemorate German Jewish Contributions to America. When I had the idea, I wondered if this mere act could be considered insensitive for some Jews. I remember my own mixed emotions the first time I walked in the Parade. While I think most Americans today can separate the Nazi period from the rest of German History, there still seems to be some difficulty for some in the Jewish Community to publicly display pride of their German roots.

My paternal grandparents came to America as sole survivors; losing their siblings, parents and relatives to the Holocaust. Seventeen immediate family members were murdered. And while I cannot forget or forgive the actual perpetrators or collaborators; I no longer blame today�s Germans for the past atrocities. This is not only unfair to them, but it also negates the hundreds of years of deep Jewish history in Germany and the re-emergence of Jewish life since the end of the war. There is much Jewish-German history to be proud of in both America and Germany as well. There were also dark periods in our country�s history; yet I am still a proud American.

Maybe my personal life is rather unique, since I not only heard of first-hand horrors; but I also heard stories of my family�s lives in Germany before the Nazi period. Like other first generation Americans, I heard the foreign language at home, and ate the foods of my ancestral home. Unlike Jews in Eastern European countries, where they were always segregated, discriminated and attacked; Jews in Germany had full citizenship and considered themselves German from 1871-1933. So I understand why Jews might not want to march in a Polish Parade or Ukrainian Parade. But Jews in Germany had more civil rights than Jews did in America from 1896-1933. Almost every country in Europe killed Jews in their past and many participated in the Final Solution without much of a fight. The real enemy is dehumanizing and exterminating minorities word-wide; not hating today�s Germans.

Many German Jews in 1933 didn't want to come to New York because of American prevailing national segregation and discrimination laws. All minorities (including African Americans, Irish, Jews, Catholics, Native Americans, Asians, etc.) were legally excluded from various �white-Christian� neighborhoods, resorts, country clubs, colleges, and jobs. Hitler�s SA learned a lot about terror from our KKK. If only America could have spoken out with one unified strong voice against Hitler�s Anti-Jewish policies in 1933 then maybe the Holocaust would never have happened. But each test that Hitler tried including the 1936 Olympic cover-up, Kristallnacht (1938) and the ill-fated St. Louis Voyage (1939) gave him the conviction to go into Poland and start the Final Solution. America couldn't strongly protest against the Anti-Jewish policies because a large segment of our country agreed with Hitler�s �Separate but Equal� segregation/discrimination policies at the time.

When I asked German Jewish Institutions if they wanted to join in, the typical official response was that the Parade was on a Saturday (Shabbos). {Note: the date of the Steuben Parade was voluntarily moved twice so it wouldn't conflict with Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur's traffic pattern for Fifth Avenue.} When asked if individuals from these institutions could join in, the answer was either yes, followed by an excuse; or just a no thank you. Each year at its peak about 12 people said they would walk with me, before the amount of cancellations would come. In 2011 we did have 4 walkers.

So that is why I think this endeavor is important, and why I walked again this year even though about a dozen others cancelled out on me. I was expressing my emotional growth by using my feet in public. Today the LGBT Community marches with pride in their Pride Parade each year, but in 1970 it was an act of courage to run up 6th Avenue in a demonstration called by the Gay Liberation Front. I know; I was there.

That is why I don�t think it is too soon to ask the question why the descendants of German Jews (especially those who recently obtained dual citizenship) and the institutions who support German Jewish culture are not participating in the Parade. Reform Judaism started in Germany and many NYC Jews travel on the Shabbos. If anyone wants more information about joining in next year�s Jewish Contingent in the Steuben Parade, go to or contact me directly at


"Reconciliation is a continuing march of little steps...

We march to commemorate the German Jewish contributions to America.

While we also remember the atrocities of the Nazi era, we must also remember the rich Jewish culture that existed in Germany for centuries and which is currently thriving in Germany today."

Rick Landman

Ninth Division- Metropolitan Division - Section A
German Jewish Americans of New York, Coordinator Rick Landman
�Celebrating German-Jewish contributions to America�

Steuben Parade 2012
2012---Right to Left: George Hermann, RoseAnn Hermann, Rick Landman.

Steuben Parade 2011
2011---Left to right: George Hermann, RoseAnn Hermann, Rick Landman, Bruce Pachter.

This is a photo of me carrying the banner in the 2010 Steuben Parade.




The following groups or movements were started by German Jews or their descendants...
They are NOT participating in this endeavor. There names are only for historical information.

  • B'nai B'rith
  • United Jewish Appeal (Federation started by Felix Warburg)
  • Temple Emanuel
  • Congregation Habonim
  • Leo Baeck Institute
  • Henry Street Settlement
  • Reform Jewish Movement (Founded in Germany)
  • Modern Orthodox Jewish Movement (Founded in Germany)


  • Wolf Blitzer
  • Albert Einstein
  • Erich Fromm
  • Marcus Goldman
  • Benjamin and Solomon Guggenheim
  • Fritz Kahn
  • Henry Kissinger
  • Abraham Kuhn
  • Henry Landman
  • Mayer Lehman
  • Solomon Loeb Lehman
  • Herbert Marcuse
  • J. Robert Oppenheimer
  • Senator Manfred Ohrenstein
  • Jacob Schiff
  • Joseph Seligman
  • Isodore Straus
  • Levi Strauss
  • Lillian Wald
  • Max Warburg
  • Dr. Ruth Westheimer

    The Parade was on Saturday starting at noon, September 21, 2013, going up Fifth Avenue.
    (In 2010, the date of the Parade was moved back one week from the usual 3rd Saturday in September in respect for Yom Kippur.)

    by Rick Landman

    September 2010

    It is now 3 parades since I had the idea of marching in the Steuben Day Parade. The Parade was on Rosh Hashana last year, but this year the Parade Committee moved the date of the Parade (which fell out on Yom Kippur) back a week, so there was no problem with me marching.

    My idea was to create a Jewish Contingent to not only honor German Jewish contributions to American culture, but to start taking �steps� towards exploring German pride before and after the Nazi era. Most of my family lived in Germany for several hundreds of years before fleeing to America in 1939.

    When I retired in 2007, I not only became a dual German and American citizen, but I also started to delve into history and all of the conflicting emotions that I had being that I am Jewish, Gay, German and American.

    I still have a cringing feeling when I hear the music to �Deutschland Uber Alles� even though I know that the words are no longer the same as during the Nazi era. Yesterday at a pre-Parade ceremony I showed my initial ignorance of German history, but corrected it in my mind later. There were people dressed in period costumes from Kaiser Wilhelm I and others from the period of Baron Von Steuben in 1777.
    1777 Tea Party
    The 1777 costumes reminded me of the �Tea Party� groups that are currently in fashion and I understood the look without any emotions. But the Kaiser uniforms and helmets struck a nerve. I have photographs of my grandfather in a similar outfit while fighting in World War I for a Kaiser Wilhelm. But here is where my ignorance came in. That was Wilhelm II and they were commemorating the unification of Germany with Kaiser Wilhelm I. But the American in me, still had a negative reaction to the pointed helmets.

    Kaiser Wilhelm I

    I also thought that I was talking to a German soldier until I learned that he was with a social group and it just looked like a military uniform. I did make a fool of myself several times by misunderstanding who was who. I would go and speak German to people who I thought were German, only find out that they worked in a restaurant in Staten Island and couldn't understand what I was saying.
    The morning of the Parade, I put on all of the flags and pins that I got the day before and rolled up the banner and put on a CBST (LGBT Synagogue) rainbow yamulka (skull cap) to go up to the Assembly area. This was a day of two �Outings�. I not only would be carrying German identified items, but wearing the yamulka would be a public statement of my being a Jew. Usually, I only wear a yamulka when praying in a synagogue. To be honest, there are feelings involved when going up to someone wearing a yamulka and a German flag in one�s pocket that I didn�t know how to deal with.

    My webpage was on the internet for almost a year, asking others to join in with my idea of a Jewish contingent; and at one time there were 11 people who expressed an interest in accompanying me. But that number dropped dramatically when they realized that they may be photographed on Fifth Avenue and everyone one of them had another appointment or declined to hold the banner with me.

    So I put on my CBST yamulka and headed off for the Parade. yamulka

    I decided that I would be a visable Jew with a yamulka on until I got home (Door to Door for a purpose of dor v� dor.) Walking down 68th Street a met a woman who saw the yamulka and German flag and asked if I ever heard of the Leo Baeck Institute. I told her that I had started donated two collections there, but I emailed the Executive Director several times and that she never responded. Well, she gave me her card and said that she was the Executive Director. Maybe, we can do something next year together. This year I contacted numerous German Jewish groups and individuals just to get a specific no, or a request to remove their names from my webpage.

    I then got very nice comments and met very friendly people at the assembly area and everyone was glad that I was marching. Of course, there was some confusion over my �group� since I was alone.

    When we started marching on Fifth Avenue I felt comfortable and was used to marching thanks to the many times that I walked for either the Gay Pride Parade or the Salute to Israel Parade. I guess I always love a good parade on a sunny summer day. Many people took my photo and waved positively or clapped. Only one person yelled out, �Did you forget what they did to us?� and I just answered NO, and walked on. He was the only negative experience that I had.

    But while walking by myself I thought of others like Earl Anthony from CBST who I used to see marching alone for years. I realized that what I was doing was the right thing. We needed to start a dialogue and take the �steps� to say that we will not blame the grandchildren for the sins of the grandparents. We must remember that German history was in existence for thousands of years before the Nazi era and for 65 years since the era. Someone has to take that step to say, how can we march together to improve the world. So why not me and why not now? So I marched.

    When we passed the Grand Stand, I saw Ruth Westheimer. I called out that I was the son of the cousin of Freddie Rosenberg, who was her best friend. I couldn�t read her lips, but she then talked with Lars and I think she knows who I am. We have met several times before and I am practically mishbachah!

    While walking alone I was able to get in touch with my feelings and noticed how much I have grown since a child. I realized that I can now release the anger and hatreds and feel good about a new generation of Germans who are very similar to me in politics, views and personal experiences. The Nazis are dead. The Germans who are now alive had nothing to do with the Nazi era and should not be blamed for the sins of their grandparents and great-grandparents. Just as Americans should remember our past dark eras towards minorities and make amends and move forward, we should remember what happened during the Nazi era and move forward with the newer generations of Germans. These younger Germans and the Americans of German descent were quite friendly to me and I am glad and proud that I marched this year. Maybe I can get more Jewish people to march next year? The time for a real open dialogue about the emotional response of many people to still hold the younger German generation responsible for the atrocities of World War II.


    Two years ago I went to the German-American Steuben Day Parade to see what it was like. The whole experience was quite uncomfortable for me since I was still reconciling the issue of becoming a dual German-American citizen while being the son of two Holocaust Survivors. I feel that I am part of a link in Jewish history. My parents brought me up with the culture of the pre-war German Jewish people; much of which has been incorporated into America's Reform Jewish Movement. After walking around a bit, I felt most comfortable standing in front of Temple Emanuel, since I knew of its German roots.

    Over the past years, I studied German Jewish history for the past 400 years and have also learned so much about how German Jews have contributed to America's history and culture. Not only by founding America's Reform and Modern Orthodox Jewish Movements, but also by having many immigrants contribute to our American history. While we must remember and learn from those years of the Nazi era, can we not also consider the years of German history before and after the Holocaust.

    Over the past decades, I learned about the 17 members of my family that perished during the Holocaust and have been working with the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, the Leo Baeck Institute, and 2nd/3rd Generation Groups. But I also learned that the most important thing to learn from the past was to make sure history doesn't repeat itself in the future. Pre-Nazi Germany gave my family full citizenship and post-Nazi Germany has been an ardent supporter of Israel, so I think the time has come to remember the past while moving into the future. That is why I now want to form a contingent to participate in the 2010 Parade.

    Last year I approached the organizers of the Parade and inquired if a Jewish contingent could participate, but when I learned that the Parade fell out on Rosh Hashanah, my idea of participating was postponed for a year. So in 2009, the Parade organizers moved the Parade northwards a few blocks to reduce any inconvenience to Temple Emanuel, and I thought I'd try again the next year.

    The Parade has been scheduled to fall on the third Saturday of September. In 2010, that meant that it would fall out on September 18th; which was Yom Kippur. But the Parade Organizers went to the City of New York and obtained permission to move the Parade back one week so that it would now be on the 25th.

    So I am now forming a Jewish Committee to participate in the 2010 Parade by starting this webpage.

    One preliminary concept is to walk with a banner listing various German Jewish Groups and Notable German Jews who have contributed to America's history and culture.

    PERSONAL COMMENT WRITTEN IN 2009 - by Rick Landman:

    As a son of two Holocaust Survivors whose family lost 17 members during the Nazi era, I am very cognizant of the atrocities that occurred during that 12 year period of Germany's history and we must never forget it and must fight to ensure that genocide never happens again.

    Parts of my family lived in Germany for the past 400 years and thanks to Napoleon and his Emancipation, they were full citizens then and since 1871. One must remember that Jews fled from other parts of Europe to live in Germany during those centuries. Ironically, during the "Dreyfus Affair" era at the turn of the 20th Century, one might have thought that it would be France that would promote Antisemitism. The Jews of Germany had were able to be full citizens during the period of 1871-1933 while the law of the land in America during the period of 1896-1954 legalized segregation, not only for African Americans; but for Jews too. You could legally discriminate against Jews in employment, public accommodations and residential neighborhoods. My own parents couldn't find a hotel to stay in as Jews when they got married.

    But this shows that history is full of nuance; it is not a simple as some want to make it. Every country has periods of times that they are not so proud of what may have occurred.

    There is more to Jewish history than the Holocaust and there is more to German history than the Nazi era. We do not judge all of American history by our treatment to the slaves, Native Americans and other minorities. I believe that we must condemn the atrocious parts and move towards the future with our allies making sure things get better. To me Germany has become one of our best allies.

    We also learn in the Torah that you do not blame the children for the sins of their parents or grandparents. We can try to heal the effects of the past, but we cannot blame the future generations. History is fluid and doesn't stop. World War II can find its roots in World War I and in the future people will see that we are still influenced by World War II. Making friendships is never a bad idea.

    But the concept of participating in the German-American Friendship Parade merely emphasizes the contributions that German Jews made to American society and appreciates post-war Germany and the years before Nazism came to power. While we must respect and honor the victims of the Holocaust, we must also reach out to the next German generation who are our friends now and in the future.

    But I realize this is a strange idea and I may be marching by myself or with a small contingent of brave people. Since Jews were not really appreciated in most European countries in the past thousand years, they tended to be separated from the mainstream culture. That is why most Jews of Polish or Russian descent do not consider themselves Polish Americans or Russian Americans. But up until the Nazi era, Germany had probably one of the most inclusive Jewish cultures. Jews were given full rights since 1871. My own grandfather fought in World War I along side of his fellow Germans and considered himself a German, as I consider myself an American. So I can understand why many Jews would not relate to the lederhosen-clad ompa bands. But I want to show that German history is broader than all of that. It includes its Jewish parts as well. So I am participating and moving forwards.

    To read more about why I became a German citizen:

    Thursday, September 16, 2010 Luncheon at Deutsches Haus at NYU


    Rick Landman, Esq., a gay Jewish son of two Holocaust Survivors, will discuss why he became a German citizen.

    Thursday, September 16 - 12 Noon

    Born into Germany�s darkest chapter, Rick Landman lost 17 members of his family in the Holocaust. He did not lose his love for Germany, though, and kept in touch with his roots, visiting Germany many times and speaking on German-Jewish relations all over the United States and Europe. In 2007, he even became a German citizen and today he explains why. This event is part of the "Transatlantic Lunch" series sponsored by the German Academic Exchange Program (DAAD).

    Deutsches Haus at NYU

    42 Washington Mews, New York City


    Rick Landman giving the presentation at NYU's Deutsches Haus

    A partial view of the audience

    German Tour

    . . . . .
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    Torah Returns to Munich
    Oettinger Family
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    Publishing Book
    German Tour
    #1 Nice Jewish Boy turns German #2 Gay and Proud #3 Lesson of the Holocaust
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