Summons to Berlin: Nazi Theft and a Daughter's Quest for Justice

Pre-Order   Ships Aug 01, 2023

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$17.95  $16.69
She Writes Press
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About the Author

Joanne Intrator's life has been shaped by being the daughter of German Jewish refugees. From childhood, she pondered why people perpetrate atrocities on their fellow human beings. After studying German history at Connecticut College, she received an MD from Columbia University and became a psychiatrist with an expertise in abnormal behavior. She spearheaded the first brain imaging research on well-characterized psychopaths, which was published in the Journal of Biological Psychiatry. Following her father's death in 1993, she took it upon herself to fight for restitution of a building in Berlin; her professional insights into the behavior of bureaucrats were critical to her understanding of how to negotiate with obstructionists. Her journey has been the subject of news articles, television interviews, and museum exhibits. Joanne practices psychiatry in New York City and writes a blog on psychopathy for Psychology Today. For more, see her website,


"When one person spends years fighting for justice against entrenched evil, maddening bureaucracy, and all but insurmountable odds, it makes for a riveting story. When the story is true, it becomes genuinely inspiring. The 'summons to Berlin' came from countless victims of Nazi rule, as well as from a demand from history for justice . . . and Joanne Intrator answered that summons with rare resilience and courage. You will find yourself agonizing over her setbacks, cheering her victories."
--Jeff Greenfield, award-winning television journalist and author

"Joanne Intrator has created a nonfiction book that reads like a well-scripted novel. It has a storyline that breathlessly builds suspense, has intrigue that keeps you guessing what will come next, and wraps it up in a satisfying manner. But what makes this book so extraordinary is that the author takes a rather mundane topic--seeking the return of a building that was stolen by the Nazis--and uses it to enlighten the reader about how people (and their organizations) actually behave, and what motivates them to act in ways that many would describe as sociopathic. Telling the story as a psychiatrist--whose ability to analyze conduct and demeanor is truly unique--sets this book apart from all other 'restitution' narratives. It is a book that educates the reader without being didactic. What more can you expect from a recent historical event? Summons to Berlin is the kind of nonfiction book that you will want to come back to again and again, for your own edification as well as your interest in sharing the author's insights into the human condition with others."
--David Hirshberg, author of Jacobo's Rainbow and My Mother's Son

"Dr. Intrator's Summons to Berlin is unique in that it is laced through with her observations and insights as a well trained and experienced psychiatrist about the experiences she endured in her pursuit of justice for her family. 'I couldn't put the book down' is a frequently used comment to praise an author's work. In fact, I opened this book late one afternoon and read without stopping for five hours, mesmerized by the shocking details of Dr. Intrator's experience. I was astonished by her unflagging perseverance in solving the inevitable and novel obstacles put in her way by her assigned and unmotivated German advocates. Her ingenious solutions to issues that would have stopped a lesser spirit were remarkable. This is an account of courage and insightful analysis not only of the author's responses to the challenges she faced but also of the motives, limitations, and maneuvers of those who sought to dissuade her from her quest."
--Dr. Marianne J. Legato, best-selling author of Eve's Rib

"Joanne Intrator's Summons to Berlin is an important and engrossing book. Spurred by unsettling deathbed questions, the writer restlessly searches for answers in order that her father, Gerhard, should one day rest easy. This memoir reads with intense imagery that is really the stuff of novels. I had to keep reminding myself that the entire narrative is all too real. A remarkable accomplishment that fully honors Intrator's family legacy while stimulating readers' minds and touching their hearts as well."
--Steven K. Baum, author of Antisemitism Explained and The Psychology of Genocide

"In her captivating Summons to Berlin, Joanne Intrator skillfully interweaves an immense knowledge of Holocaust-era history into a vivid, complex, tragic narration of the restitution conflict that for many years possessed her heart and soul. A triumph!"
--Dr. Ava Siegler, author of What Should I Tell the Kids?

"Joanne Intrator's Summons to Berlin is a compelling confession full of intriguing questions and significant insights. In this absorbing book, the author is at once personal and objective, bringing together inner and outer realities in thoughtful, searching ways. Intrator rewards readers with a vivid feel for the complex, often disturbing events at the heart of her narrative."
--Dr. Michael Eigen, author of The Sensitive Self and The Psychoanalytic Mystic

"Joanne Intrator's Summons to Berlin is a gripping story of loss and the struggle for restitution."
--William H. Weitzer, PhD, John H. Slade Executive Director, Leo Baeck Institute

"It is all too little appreciated that the Berlin Wall went clear through the city's historic center, known in German as Mitte. Because it did, Berlin did not enjoy the same leeway as many other European cities to rebuild its historic center á l'ancienne after the devastation of WWII. With her Summons to Berlin, Joanne Intrator provides readers with rich, vibrant details of Mitte history that they simply will not find anywhere else. I hope and believe that Intrator's finely observed memoir, with its dramatic central conflict and upbeat ending, will make a significant contribution to continued good relations between Germany and the United States."
--Dr. Benedikt Goebel, Director, Office for City Research, Berlin, Büro für Stadtforschung

"What really strikes me about Joanne Intrator's remarkable Summons to Berlin is how compellingly the author--a practicing psychiatrist--decodes the emotional dimensions of her epic restitution drama. This stimulating, deeply moving book is sure to resonate."
--Dr. Frank Mecklenburg, Director of Research and Chief Archivist, Leo Baeck Institute