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When Books Travel

The 1935 wedding of Fritzi Burger and Nishikawa Shinkichi announced in the Nazi Journal, VOLK UND RASSE. The intermarriage with a "non-Aryan" was harshly criticized. The anonymous writer was not aware of Frtizi's Jewish ancestry and considered her an "Aryan."
A scholar, Gerhard Krebs, found my book, “Searching for Fritzi,” in Berlin. I am not sure if he found it online or in the library, or both. Even without the addendum, published many years after the original print version, he was interested in the story of my mother’s cousin, Fritzi Burger, an Olympic ice skating champion, particularly her 1935 marriage to a Japanese man, Nishikawa Shinkichi, grandson of Mikimoto Kokichi, the pearl magnate. Fritzi survived the war years in Japan while the Jewish members of her family were massacred in Europe. She entertained the visiting German and Austrian officers and ice danced for their pleasure. Was she a collaborator?

I tried to answer that question after I was contacted by Michael Ramsey, a soldier in General MacArthur’s occupation army. He had met Fritzi Burger in 1947 in Tokyo and had a story to tell.

I wrote up my new findings in an addendum to the book which was published separately as an article in an Austrian magazine and then added it to the e-book version of “Searching for Fritzi.”

I have written here before that this book has legs; it’s traveled.

I have had an email correspondence with Professor Krebs over the years and now his essay has appeared in a book called “Race and Racism in Modern East Asia.” He sent me a print-out which was—in its way—thrilling as I had never seen the wedding announcement photo of Fritzi and Nishikawa. And though I don’t agree entirely with his hypothesis about Fritzi Burger during the war years, I was very pleased that her story—and, by extension, the story of my family—continues to resonate with historians and has become part of the historical record. For this reason, and many others, it is important that journalists and historians remain responsive to one another’s queries. This personal contact and exchange of information and ideas far exceeds what we can discover on the internet. Not everything is scanned—this photo was never scanned, for example—and the interpretation by historians of what we find is also essential, as well as its dissemination.

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