Five Famous German Jews Who Are Still in Spotlight

famous german jews

In 2014, 100.000 Jewish people were officially living in Germany – since 1990 an increase of 70.000. But still, they belong to an ethnic and denominational minority in Germany. Due to the tragic history, Jewish celebrities in Germany or famous first generation German Jews are still exceptional.

Susan Sideropoulos

Susan Sideropoulos is one of the most famous german actresses. She became famous in 2001 with her role as the bitchy Verena Koch in the German soap Gute Zeiten, Schlechte Zeiten (Good times, bad times). Susan Sideropolos father is from Greece, while her mother was from Israel with German roots. Since 2005, the actress and tv presenter is married with Jakob Shitzberg, whom she met as a teenager during a Jewish holiday camp trip. Susan Sideropolous revealed in an interview from 2006, that she is wearing the Star of David (a symbol for the people of Israel and Judaism) on a daily basis. She is fluent in German, Greek, Hebrew and English. The actress and her husband have two sons, born in 2010 and 2011.

Michel Friedmann

Michel Friedmann is a German-French lawyer, tv presenter and politician, who originates from a Jewish-Polish family from Krakow. During World War II, almost of all his family members except Friedmanns parents and grandmother died in the extermination camp Ausschwitz. The German industrialist Oskar Schindler (portrayed in the movie Schindler’s List) helped them by putting them on a famous list, with which he finally saved around 1200 Jewish people from getting killed. Friedmann’s parents emigrated to Paris, where he was born in 1956. According to him, they were talking Polish, Jiddish and French at home. The family emigrated to Germany in 1965, where he also learned German. Friedmann holds a PhD in Law from University of Mainz, was city councillor of Frankfurt for the German conservative party CDU between 1984 and 1997, board member of the Jewish community in Frankfurt between 1983 and 2003 and a famous tv presenter. In 2003, he came into spotlight in the course of an investigation of human trafficking as sex workers. Several prostitutes from Ukraine gave evidence, that he repeatedly had sex with them and took and offered coccaine. Since 2016, he is working as a professor for real estate and medial law at Frankfurt University of Applied Science.

Hugo Egon Balder

Hugo Egon Balder is a German tv presenter, producer, musician, actor and cabaret artist. He is especially famous for presenting the German version of the Italien tv show Tutti Frutti, which was basically a strip show, whose candidates had to almost completely divest one of the female strippers by dissolving different quizzes in order to win the show. Hugo Egon Balder’s mother Gerda Balder was a Jew and survived the concentration camp Theresienstadt, while his father Egon Friedrich was a soldier for the armed forces during World War II. Gerda Balder’s first husband died in the concentration camp Ausschwitz. When she died in 1997, Hugo Egon Balder found her Star of David in a box. According to him, she didn’t like to talk with her son about the time in Theresienstadt. “You can’t imagine, what people can withstand”, she once told him.

Christian Berkel

Christian Berkel is a famous German actor, who became famous for starring in the movies The Experiment and Downfall. His mother was a Jew and his father a doctor for the armed forces during World War II. They couldnt marry each other during the war and lost sight of each other, when Berkels mother left Germany in 1938. While his father married another woman in 1950, Berkels parents met again in 1955 and finally got married after Berkel’s father got divorced from his first wife. Berkel was raised as a Roman-Catholic and his married to German actress Andrea Swatzki. They have two sons, born in 1999 and 2002.

Dr. Ruth Westheimer

Ruth Westheimer was born in 1928 in Karlsruhe, Germany, and is one of the most famous psycho sexual therapists in the world. She is the child of Jewish parents called Julius and Irma Siegel. According to Westheimer, she had an awesome childhood until the age 10. Then, her family sent her to a school in Switzerland to escape World War II, which finally developed into an orphanage for Jewish girls. She never saw her family again and assumes, that they got killed in concentration camp Ausschwitz. Ruth Westheimer emigrated to Israel and became a sniper for Haganah (Jewish underground movement who were fighting for a Jewish homeland). She studied psychology at Sorbonne University in Paris and emigrated in 1956 to the USA to study a master in sociology at Columbia University and also completed her PhD. She was three times married (her last husband was according to Westheimer the love of her life) and has two children. She is a guest lecturer at many elite university in the USA including Princeton and Harvard university. Westheimer has a net worth of 10 million USD and is running a Youtube channel. She is especially famous for her German-Hessian accent.

 Featured image (cropped): Dr. Ruth WestheimerCliff flickr – CC BY 2.0
February 9, 2017
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