The beginning of the end of German Jewry

1933

< 28 APRIL 1933
3 MAY 1933 >

Monday
1 May 1933

Paul von Hindenburg and Adolf Hitler at the May Day rally in the Berlin Lustgarten

This astonishing photograph was taken on 1 May 1933, which had been declared the “Day of National Labor” by the Nazi regime. It shows President Paul von Hindenburg and Chancellor Adolf Hitler in an open-top car and was taken just after the rally in the Berlin Lustgarten at which Hindenburg had delivered a speech from the terrace of the Berlin City Palace. People are gathered on the side of the road, their arms extended in the Hitler salute. Martin Dzubas (1900–1941), who was also a photographer, can be seen to the side of the car with a camera in his hand.

The picture was sold as a “genuine photo postcard.” As chance would have it, Martin Dzubas, who was thirty-two at the time, discovered it at a newsstand and purchased it together with another card on which he was visible. Decades later, the images were found in a small photographic collection that had been donated to the Jewish Museum Berlin. We do not know whether the photographs that Dzubas took himself on that fateful day—only twenty-four hours later trade unions were banned and disbanded—were also published.

Martin Dzubas worked as a photographer for the Photo and Film Department of the Police Institute for Technology and Transport. The son of a Jew, he lost his job after five years of employment in August 1933 and afterward opened a photo studio in the Lichterfelde district of Berlin. Although he had previously had little contact with the Jewish community and Judaism, in 1934 his photographs began appearing in German-Jewish newspapers. In the following years he worked almost exclusively as a sports photographer. Hundreds of his pictures were published in CV-Zeitung, Jüdisches Gemeindeblatt Berlin and Schild, the newspaper brought out by the Reich League of Jewish Frontline Soldiers.

In May 1939 Martin Dzubas, who was married and had a son, was accused of “racial defilement” and incarcerated in the Moabit prison. He was never convicted of any crime. After his release in December, he was forced to do slave labor in a textile factory. He was arrested again in January 1941 and interned in the Sachsenhausen concentration camp. Seven months later he was transferred to the Gross Rosen concentration camp, where he died on 27 December at the age of forty-one.

Aubrey Pomerance

Categorie(s): artists and writers | Berlin | journalists | trade unions
Paul von Hindenburg and Adolf Hitler at the May Day rally in the Lustgarten, unknown photographer, Berlin, 1 May 1933
Gift of Hans Dzubas

Photo reporter and art photographer

Only a few photographs by Martin Dzubas have survived, but the collection of more than sixty images that his son donated to the Jewish Museum shows the great diversity and high quality of his work. In addition to crime scene documentation for the police, the collection includes lively portraits, atmospheric shots of big-city life, meticulously composed architectural studies and abstract formal still lifes. A number of his sports photos have also found their way into the archive with other collections.

Martin Dzubas with camera (self-portrait), around 1935.
Gift of Hans Dzubas 
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