“Fascinating, serious, passionate, and controversial”

An Interview with Barbara Rösch about “Recommended Reading on National Socialism and the Holocaust”

Four women sitting at a table with books

Members of the reading circle © Jewish Museum Berlin, photo: Christine Marth

A German-language brochure listing “Recommended Reading on National Socialism and the Holocaust” was recently made available for download from our website as a PDF. Over the last few years several museum employees read widely on the topic, shared their opinions and then made this selection. Dr. Barbara Rösch of our Education Department talked to me about what was involved. She is a member of the reading circle and also worked for a time at the Universities of Potsdam and Leipzig as an elementary school teacher trainer. In addition to her work at the Jewish Museum Berlin she is currently writing a book about everyday racism in elementary schools.

Dear Barbara, countless books about National Socialism and the Holocaust are available for children and young people. How did you go about making a selection?

Our work is oriented primarily to the needs of teachers, who regularly ask us to make recommendations and indeed seem almost to think that we must. We therefore bear in mind the so-called “classics” that are read in German classrooms as well as new publications, books written from a non-German perspective, and books that touch upon hitherto neglected themes, such as the hakhshara movement.  continue reading


Fleeing – Then and Now

An Internet Harvest for the Day of the Refugee

Woodcut with five tired people, two sitting on the floor, one leaning on a wooden box and two standig in the background

“Refugees”, color woodcut by Jakob Steinhardt, 1946, purchased with funds provided by Stiftung DKLB. You can find this and other related objects in our German-language collection database.

This year’s Day of the Refugee takes place today, 2 October 2015 as part of Intercultural Week, with the slogan “Refugees Welcome!” We have taken this as an occasion to go through our own and other websites and blogs, gathering items on this subject. Since we work at a Jewish museum, stories about fleeing are part of our ‘everyday business’: practically all of the family collections given to our museum tell stories of persecution and flight, going beyond mere statistics to depict the fates of individuals. Letters, travel documents, photographs, and personal memorabilia tell of the desperate search for a country to emigrate to, failed or successful emigrations, the often difficult life in a foreign country, the search for relatives, friends, and former neighbors, now scattered across the entire world. We tell these stories in our permanent exhibition and they have also been the subject of various special exhibitions. At the moment, for instance, in our current cabinet exhibition “In a Foreign Country” you can see publications that originated in Jewish Displaced Persons Camps. Jewish men and women waited there for their passage to Palestine or later Israel, to the USA and other countries, where they hoped to start a new life after the Shoah.

In addition to our exhibitions, we also make stories of flight and displacement visible online, for example with a selection of objects:  continue reading


From poster stamps to animal card collections: on small collectors and big crazes

“Poster stamps?” A short pause, a puzzled look. “And… what are poster stamps?” This was more or less the reaction of every one of my friends and acquaintances when I told them these last months about ‘what I’m working on at the museum right now’. Namely, an exhibition on poster stamps.

Poster stamp with a man, out of his hat are falling poster stamps

Poster stamp from the publisher M. Fickel © Jewish Museum Berlin, photo: Jens Ziehe, gift of Peter-Hannes Lehmann

Poster stamps, I would answer, are small promotional pictures, a little bigger than stamps. They were used as advertisements for products and stores just about exactly a hundred years ago. Some of the stamps were designed by well-known artists like Lucian Bernhard and people would collect them, particularly children.

I didn’t know much more than that about these poster stamps before I started researching for our cabinet exhibition “Pictures Galore and Collecting Mania – Advertising in Miniature”. The show begins on 4. December, 2014 and lasts until 31. May, 2015 at the Rafael Roth Learning Center. To learn more about the relevance that the stamps had before World War I, I began reading contemporary advertising manuals and magazines.
At first I found relatively little on the subject,  continue reading