David (Detlef) von Perlstein

David was born in Bremen, Germany.

We knew only bits of David’s Holocaust experiences. David had trouble speaking about it. His father, a physician, was taken from work by Nazi officers and killed. His Grandfather was a physician to the German Emperor Wilhelm II. David ran away from school to find shelter in an orphanage in Holland, but the Nazis came and took all the children to concentration  camps. He changed his name thinking it may save him, but it did not work.

He was in a concentration camp in Buchenwald, and had no contact with his family. He was an 11 year old boy alone in a Nazi concentration slave labor camp. The Nazis would not tolerate those who could not work in cold and snow

He knew he lost his family and many relatives, but was unable to discuss the bitterness of what he endured from the age of 11 to 16 years old

During World War II David vowed that if he survived the slave labor concentration camps he would become a chef and never be hungry again.

He survived and studied cooking in Switzerland, after the war. He then settled in Israel where he fought in the 1956 Arab-Israeli war. Prior to coming to the United States, he was chef to Israel’s President Izhak Ben-Zvi and the French Diplomat to Israel. Shortly after arriving in the U.S. David started working at the Plaza Hotel and his wife Geulah gave birth to their first child, a daughter, Iris.

The family then moved to Rochester where he was the Executive Chef at the Jewish Home and Infirmary on St. Paul Street. He also taught cooking classes for several years and was Chef at the former Americana Town House on Mount Hope Ave. During this time David and Geulah had two more children, a son Ronny and a daughter Sharona.

In 1978 David opened the Shalom Kosher Restaurant on Winton Road for a short time. He then opened the Café International where he was both Chef and outstanding Host. He ran this restaurant until his battle with cancer took his life.

David had trouble speaking about being in a concentration camp. Seeing something about the Holocaust on TV bothered him. He would have to turn off the TV, overcome with emotion.

Although he had come so far, with nothing when he arrived in the United States, he could not wipe out the terrible nightmares he often had.

He kept a poem written by his mother, Paula von Perlstein, a journalist in Germany, which was translated from the original German by his youngest daughter Sharona.

Biography written by the family

You Still Dare?
By Paula von Perlstein

Shot! Hanged! Trampled to Death! and Slain!
Do you want me to be silent?
I should not talk about it anymore?
You did not know about it?
So now you know!
They were choked, drowned, poisoned to Death!
Starved, hunted and frozen to Death!
They too were born by a mother!
What they suffer, who can guess?
I should be still? I should finally forget?
I can’t do so!!!
In a long endless night I think…
“…How did they do him in?”
You still Dare tell me:
I should be silent and should not mourn anymore!
But I will not be still,
I accuse!
Because one of them was my husband
And you still Dare?

Paula von Perstein was an author and journalist residing in Germany. This poem was translated from German by her granddaughter, Shanona Von Perlstein