Actor and activist Mandy Patinkin, known for his roles on Broadway and the TV series “Homeland,” has signed on to narrate a podcast about the history of Jews in Germany in the years leading up to World War Two. The first six episodes of Exile will become available in partnership with National Public Radio next month, with an additional six tentatively scheduled for completion in December 2022. The content was developed by Leo Baeck Institute and Antica productions, a Toronto-based producer of podcasts.
The stories include that of playwright Kurt Hirschfeld, who fled to Switzerland where he wove his subversive anti-war and anti-fascist messages into his theatrical performances. And a young, Jewish librarian in New York who risked her life to spy on the growing Nazi movement in America. Some of the episodes highlight little-known aspects of famous stories – such as Einstein’s search for refuge from his own fame on the shores of a quiet lake outside Berlin. In another episode, the sex-therapist “Dr. Ruth” Westheimer revisits the past through a never-before-published diary she kept as a young woman at an orphanage in Switzerland just after the end of the war.
“After decades of collecting, preserving, and cataloging the stories of German-speaking Jews for use by scholars and families, it is thrilling for LBI to bring them directly to a broader audience using this popular medium,” said LBI Executive Director William Weitzer. “These first 12 stories focus on experiences under National Socialism, which makes for compelling, and sometimes harrowing listening. However, what LBI also wants to convey to people who are drawn in by these stories is a sense of the people and the culture that existed before 1933.”
In 2023, LBI will also launch a physical exhibit at the Center for Jewish History in New York that features artifacts related to each of the 12 episodes.
Patinkin tells Deadline the series will tell the “extraordinary stories of these individuals, their noble lives and journey” at a time when many fled Europe. “It is important to tell their stories at this time – for hope, inspiration and humanity all over the world,” he said.