The beginning of the end of German Jewry

1933

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Sunday
12 February 1933

Malka Kahan dressed as a bellhop

This small bellhop’s name is Malka Kahan (1926–2006) and she is six years old. We can assume she was familiar with the exciting story of Emil and the Detectives, which was being filmed in Berlin at the time. The bellhop plays a key role in the adventure. Malka and her older brother Avinoam grew up in Charlottenburg, near the locations where the film was shot. Her large family led a typical upper-class life. However, the many languages they spoke hinted at their own unusual story.

The Kahans originally came from the Russian Empire, where Malka’s great grandfather had amassed a fortune in the oil business. War and revolution had forced the family to leave their home and by 1914 most of the Kahans were living in Berlin. Having already visited Germany in the course of their university studies and on summer trips, the Kahans adapted quickly to their new home. After the First World War, the family gained a financial foothold in Germany and by the mid-1920s ranked among the country’s largest importers of oil.

In the wake of the international economic crisis and under pressure from the Nazis, the Kahans sold their company and emigrated. Just 16 months after this photograph of Malka in her bellhop costume was taken, she left Berlin for Paris with her family and then emigrated to Palestine.

Miriam Goldmann

Categorie(s): Berlin | businessmen | childhood
Malka Kahan dressed up as a bellhop, Berlin, 12 February 1933
Loan from Jonah and Ittai Gavrieli
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