The JLTV team has just returned from a successful voyage to the beautiful country of Switzerland. Host Brad Pomerance, Director Jon McCandless and Director of Photography Danny O’Brien traveled to Basel, the twin towns of Endingen and Lengnau and Zurich – in preparation for the next installment of the JLTV global travel series, Air Land & Sea.
While in Basel, the JLTV crew visited the Hotel Trois Rois, where in 1897, Theodor Herzl stayed during the First Zionist Congress. After rejections from other European cities, the Zionists were welcomed in Basel and held the first Zionist Congress in the concert hall of the Basel Municipal Casino on August 29, 1897. About two hundred people from seventeen countries were estimated to have attended that First Congress. Of the twenty-two Zionist Congresses, ten were held in Basel. Brad Pomerance had the opportunity to stand on the very balcony where Theodor Herzl stood 120 years ago and pondered the Congress’s declaration that the Jewish people establish a homeland in Palestine.
The crew also had the opportunity to participate in an emotional interview with Gerti Elias, Anne Frank’s first cousin. How did Gerti Elias end up in Basel? The Frank family originally hailed from Frankfurt, Germany. The family was ultimately separated when Hitler wrestled the reigns of power in Germany in 1933. Otto Frank and his family moved to Amsterdam, Netherlands, while his sister, Helene Elias and her family, moved to Basel, Switzerland. While Otto Frank’s family was ultimately captured and deported to Nazi concentration camps, the Elias family was safe in Switzerland. Helene Elias had a son named Buddy Elias, who married Gerti Elias. After the war, Otto Frank, the only survivor in his family, and his second wife moved to Basel for a time, living in the Elias home, where Gerti Elias still lives today.
The JLTV team then traveled to the twin towns of Endingen and Lengnau, the only towns where the Jews of Switzerland were allowed to live during most of the 18th and 19th centuries. Both Endingen and Lengnau are municipalities in the canton of Aargau near the Swiss-German border. Endingen and Lengnau’s synagogues, as well as the shared cemetery, are listed as heritage sites of national significance. The crew visited the towns’ historic synagogues as well as the still-functioning cemetery. Interestingly, a Christian church was never built in Endingen and even to this day, the Jewish Synagogue serves as the only house of worship in Endingen. Many members of the modern Swiss Jewish community descend from the Jewish people who lived in Endingen and Lengnau in the 1700s and 1800s.
The JLTV crew concluded their trip in Zurich, where they visited Zurich Polytechnic University. Albert Einstein attended Zurich Polytechnic and received his diploma in physics in July 1900. While Einstein originally hailed from Germany, he was so taken by Zurich and Switzerland that he voluntarily became a Swiss citizen in 1901. Einstein returned to serve as a Professor at Zurich Polytechnic and went on to develop his groundbreaking theory of relatively in 1915. In 1921, Einstein was awarded the Nobel Prize. The JLTV crew had the opportunity to visit the very campus where Albert Einstein studied and taught.
You can expect to see the upcoming installment of Air Land & Sea focusing on Switzerland at the end of 2017. This episode is brought to you through the generous support of Basel Tourism, Zurich Tourism and Switzerland Tourism.
You can watch JLTV’s global travel series Air Land & Sea on Sundays, 9:00PM ET and PT on North America’s Chosen Network, JLTV.
By: Brad Pomerance & Alexis Turner