Conversations between Hila and Mirjam

Conversations between Hila and Mirjam

A soundwork made by Hila Laviv with Mirijam Polling for the exhibition Traces of Existence – What to do on a Rainy Day? Narrated by Naomi Yoeli.

You can listen to all 10 soundtracks. Just click the play button above. Or read the manuscript further down. The tracks are also available in swedish.

Conversations between Mirjam Pollin and Hila Laviv_ Segment number 1

To Falun

Mirjam: I arrived there after my mother was sent to the east
I worked in Stockholm
And I was deeply depressed, and I went to Eva
And I sat at hers and cried
And just then a group came, who were in the centre of Sweden in Falun, they came to Stockholm with a play, presented pictures of Jewish history
And among these youngsters I found a girl from Hamburg who had also been at Eva’s, Frieda Buchhalter, and of course after the play I went to meet her
I don’t know where I have… where I had the courage from, and I said to her:
Frieda, can I join you, because I was very lonely
And she told me- ask Eva, and I went to Eva
And Eva arranged it for me
And then I went there
Hila: to Falun

Conversations between Mirjam Pollin and Hila Laviv_ Segment number 2

The first thing I did

Mirjam: then I was very very scared and I sat there and worked
And the first thing I did, I fell in love with a guy there
Hila: (laughing)
Mirjam: I sat with him alone in the room and we worked
And he sang love songs from the operettas
Hhhhhh my heart
He looked me deep in the eyes
And when he passed me he’d accidentally touch my hand
Oh, I loved him so much
I simply, I needed someone
Until one of his friends said he was laughing at me, that he was telling his friends how stupid I was
Hila: Who was that?!
Mirjam: Dan Schier
Hila: was he also… did he also work there?
Mirjam: its ok, I found somebody else afterwards

Conversations between Mirjam Pollin and Hila Laviv_ Segment number 3

I had some tomtes

Mirjam: Menashe made this
Hila: Oh how beautiful
Miriam: Yes
I had some tomtes
Hila: what?
Oh, you had dwarves
And what happened to them?
Mirjam: Who knows?

Conversations between Mirjam Pollin and Hila Laviv_ Segment number 4

Without nationality

Hila: How old were you, sixteen?
Mirjam: When I joined, yes. I was twelve when I got to Sweden
Hila: so where were you before?
Mirjam: I came to a family.
and at the age of fourteen… at the age of fifteen, I went out to work
I took the suitcase
Hila: So you were actually a refugee?
Mirjam: Yes
Hila: And you got citizenship as a refugee in Sweden?
Mirjam: I didn’t get citizenship
Hila: Could you work?
Mirjam: Without nationality
Hila: Without nationality
Mirjam: and I had a stateless passport
And every six months I had to apply for residency
Hila: OK
Miriam: and when I got the passport back, there was always this red note
It said that the state of Sweden will not place any restrictions if I want to move to another place
That means, they didn’t want me

Conversations between Mirjam Pollin and Hila Laviv_ Segment number 5

I remember the books of Elsa Beskow

Mirjam: I remember the books of Elsa Beskow, that Eva’s mother, your great grandmother…
Hila: Yes Anna was her friend
Mirjam: Yes, she translated them into German
Hila: She translated Elsa’s books to German?
Mirjam: Yes
Hila: Really? I didn’t know
Mirjam: Elsa Beskow’s books were in Eva’s children’s home, and we could read them there
Hila: Amazing
Mirjam: And it was translated into German
Hila: I…
There was also
In my grandmother’s house there were the books.
In Swedish, and I couldn’t read them
Then they’d tell us the books orally, not exactly what was written,
And I’d look at the pictures.
Mirjam: Yes, i blåbärskogen, with the blueberries there
Hila: Right
Mirjam: A sweet story
And with the dwarfs with the house that burned down
Hila: Yes
Mirjam: Yes

Conversations between Mirjam Pollin and Hila Laviv_ Segment number 6

Open house

Mirjam: People were very curious to know: “how many children do you have?”
Because boys and girls were living together,
They always asked: “how many children do you have?”
And once a year we had an open house, then we put on an exhibition with all the toys and it was wonderful
Hila: Ahhh, wow, in the first or the second house?
Mirjam: The second
And on the table there was all the tomtar, all the dwarves.
And I worked on it and it was… it was wonderful,
And then crowds of people came to see how we live, and they looked for the children.

Conversations between Mirjam Pollin and Hila Laviv_ Segment number 7

They called me Thea once

Mirjam: I remember, my mother was a hatter, and Anna ordered two hats from my mother. Mother worked at home, so we went to Mittelweg to deliver the hats.
And then Anna asked: Where is Thea going
They called me Thea once
And mother said she was registered for Holland, but for some reason they didn’t put me on the list for Holland
And Anna called Eva, to make sure I’d get to Sweden, and they saved my life
Hila: Amazing
When you brought the hats?
Mirjam: Yes yes
And I always say, Eva saved my life
Hila: And then you travelled alone
Mirjam: With a group of children
Hila: With a group
But if you’d gone to Holland, it wouldn’t have helped
Mirjam: No no
Hila: Because Holland very quickly…
Mirjam: I didn’t understand that I was leaving now and – I wouldn’t see Mother any more
Hila: How old were you?
Mirjam: Almost thirteen, for me it was… I was with children I knew, from Eva, and we are going to Eva, and it was
Hila: Like a trip
Mirjam: It was a trip
And the parents weren’t allowed to accompany the children to the train.
They had to say goodbye in front of the railway building
Because they didn’t want crying and they didn’t want,
But Mother, she stood on another platform,
And I saw her,
And she was crying,
And I didn’t understand why she was crying
After all, I was going on a trip
And when I came to, came to Sweden, Eva was waiting for us,
And treated us to breakfast at the train station
And everything was new
And she took us to her house, in Stockholm,
A big apartment but completely empty, and we slept on mattresses, and everything was an adventure
But the next day an ugly old man came into the apartment and I had to go with him
And then everything collapsed, then I was afraid.
To go with a strange man, that I could barely talk with
And Eva said to take the suitcase.
It was terrible
And we went with a train like that and with… I don’t know, and we arrived outside the city of Stockholm,
And there was an old woman there, she must have been over fifty, and I couldn’t talk to them,
It was very hard
But I learned the language quickly
And they gave me all I… the bed and the food and the school, I went
But the hug
Hila: No, there wasn’t?
Mirjam: After all, I was
Hila: A child

Conversations between Mirjam Pollin and Hila Laviv_ Segment number 8

I was called Thea once

Mirjam: My mother was, how do you say it, was a hatter
Hila: That’s one of… It’s my dream
Mirjam: And Mrs Anna Warburg ordered two hats from her.
Hila: And where was it? Was it in
Mirjam: In Hamburg
And Anna had lots of hair, it was back like that, in a
Hila: Long hair
Mirjam: Yes
And Mother worked on those two hats,
And we went to her to deliver the hats.
And she asked Mother: ‘Where is Thea going to?’ I was called Thea once, ‘Where is Thea registered?’
‘For Holland’.
I don’t know how and what, but a few weeks later we got a letter with an entry permit to Sweden, and Eva wrote, ‘Ich freue mich auch, Tante Eva’, ‘I’m also glad’.
Anna Warburg must have arranged it,
And they saved my life
Hila: Were all the children registered to – to go somewhere? Anna arranged it?
Mirjam: Yes yes
Hila: Like who, who? How is it at all?
Mirjam: They went to the community
Hila: Yes
Mirjam: Because these countries gave, like this and like that,
Divided it for all Germany, Germany and Austria.
Hila: But only children
Mirjam: Only children, there were no parents
Hila: This was under what age?
Mirjam: They looked, Eva looked for families in Sweden
Hila: Yes, she tells about this beautifully in
Mirjam: They didn’t look for big children
Hila: Then it was really based on what a family wanted?
Mirjam: Yes
And I came.
I was with a group, where I knew the children, it was Eva’s children.
But I didn’t get it,
Frist of all I knew nothing about Sweden
Sweden, is north, its cold,
I didn’t get it
Maybe it was protection… that I couldn’t imagine at all that I… I’d leave and I wouldn’t see my parents
Hila: Or your siblings
Mirjam: He was in Palestine and she was in – in the USA
I was alone, and I was very much with Mother,
The parents were divorced.
I did visit Father
But I was with Mother, and she was very close,
Since I was the only one.
And I didn’t get it
That for me it was a trip,
I even got sandwiches for the way,
They said its twenty four hours, they should give sandwiches.
And Mother wasn’t allowed to go, the parents weren’t allowed to accompany us to the train
And I was busy.
Hila: With friends
Mirjam: With friends,
And then I heard her whistle, the family’s,
And I saw her on the opposite platform,
And she was crying,
And I didn’t understand why she was crying,
It was not real for me,
She was so alone there.

Conversations between Mirjam Pollin and Hila Laviv_ Segment number 9

But now I don’t know what your name is

Hila: Yes I remember your name but, when did you change the name from Thea, here when you came to Israel?
Mirjam: No, in Sweden
Hila: Still in Sweden?
Mirjam: Everybody was: Rachel and Judith and Yochevet and everyone had names, changed the names
And I sat with my man, and we decided I also need a name
And then we tried this and that, then Mirjam he said, Mirjam was suitable
Hila: And did Eva call you Miriam or Thea?
Mirjam: Thea
Hila: That’s it because when I talked to Dvora, Dvora told me- for us she was Thea
So there were people…
Mirjam: I always called Eva Eva, not Hava
Hila (laughing): And my grandmother, her name was supposedly Esther and we call her Noni
Mirjam: Yes
Hila: So you too? Are there people who call you Thea? Except for Eva?
Mirjam: Only those, only those who know me from then…
Hila: And your children call you Mirjam
Mirjam: Yes
Hila: And your man
Mirjam: Mia, a woman, and I called him man, Ish
Hila: OK, it was a lot of fun
Mirjam: But now I don’t know what your name is
Hila: Hila
Mirjam: Hila

Conversations between Mirjam Pollin and Hila Laviv_ Segment number 10


Mirjam: And I knew before I really threw myself in front of a car, I’d go to Eva
And I sat and cried, because I didn’t know where to
And then I heard the group in Hälsinggården.
And I came there, and that saved me.
They were all in my situation,
And I was in a framework, I didn’t have to stand on my own feet alone.

Lyssna & läs mer


Lördag 2 juni 2018 kl 14.00 på DALARNAS MUSEUM
Därefter egen transport till Hälsinggårdens trädgård där Hila Laviv visar sitt verk. (parkeringen 60°35’14.0″N 15°40’55.5″E).


Artist talk ca. 15.00 Traces of Existence konstnärlig ledare Åsa Andersson Broms samtalar med Hila Laviv

Traces of existence · Mirjam Pollin en av kibbutzmedlemmarna på Hälsinggården
samtalar med konstnären Hila Laviv


Söndag 3 juni 2018 kl 13.00, Gömd a spår av judiska Dalarna.
Runt om i Sverige finns gömda spår av judisk existens. Hur bär man sig åt för att finna och tolka dem?

Judiska museets forskare Elin Hinnemo berätta om projektet Traces of Existence och om hur Sverige hanterat den judiska minoriteten.

Söndag 3 juni 2018 kl 14.30, Judiskt liv i Sverige.
Judiska museets intendent Yael Fried berättar om judar och judiskt liv i Sverige idag. Vad innebär det att ha en judisk identitet?

Läs mer på Dalarnas museums hemsida