Shortly before Time Begins:

What We Won’t Be Showing, after All

In a few days, indeed in a matter of hours, our special exhibition “A Time for Everything” will open to the public: a display of both sacred and profane objects presented in the context of “Rituals Against Forgetting.” Almost all the objects kindly loaned us have arrived by now, walls have been painted, texts written, showcases installed, and the complete English version of the exhibition webpage will be launched in a few minutes.

Yet much looks very different now, from how it was conceived and planned initially. Up to the very last minute, we had to juggle decisions as to what should be done, and how, and to drop certain ideas that proved infeasible. We are currently shooting the exhibition trailer and already have some scenes ‘in the can,’ namely those which struck us as most interesting and promising. Yet doubtless also some of those will land on the cutting-room floor however — as did this statement from Cilly Kugelmann on the exhibition title and the meaning of time:

The theme of time, or, to be more precise, the Jewish perspective on times, is the primary focus of our forthcoming issue of the JMB Journal, too.  continue reading


In Memory of Rafael Roth

Photo of Rafael Roth

Rafael Roth, 2003 © Jewish Museum Berlin, photograph: Bildschön

In late 1998, long before the Jewish Museum Berlin opened its doors, the Berlin entrepreneur Rafael Roth offered to support the museum financially. He was committed to W. Michael Blumenthal’s vision of a center dedicated to research on and education in the history of Jewish life in Germany.

Roth was enthusiastic about the idea of a modern media center that would enable visitors to explore Jewish history in an interactive format. His generous donation funded the architecture, the concept and the technical development of this center, located on the subterranean level of the Daniel Libeskind building. When the “Rafael Roth Learning Center“ was inaugurated together with the permanent exhibition on 9 September 2001, it fulfilled its initial purpose, namely to be “the most up-to-date, most impressive and most important center of its kind.” Twelve years later, the media-lounge and study rooms still attract a great number of museum visitors.

Rafael Roth died on 21 September. The Jewish Museum Berlin is highly indebted to him and remembers him in great fondness.

 Mirjam Wenzel and Henriette Kolb, Media


A “Memorial to the Idiocy of Nazi Censorship”

View into the empty library on today's Bebelplatz

Book Burning Memorial
This photo by Charlotte Nordahl is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license

May 10th marked the climax of spring 1933’s “Action against the Un-German Spirit” (Aktion wider den undeutschen Geist), an uprising of German students against professors who were political dissidents or Jewish, as well as ‘subversive writing’ (zersetzendes Schrifttum). We all know the images of the carefully prepared book burning in Berlin. Micha Ullmann’s memorial on today’s Bebelplatz responds to the notorious call to flames with a hauntingly quiet and empty library.

The Jewish Museum Berlin is now exhibiting some of the books which were taken off their shelves and thrown onto the pyre. The items on display are from George Warburg’s collection.

Viewing the bindings, the layouts, and the printing of these works is a pleasure in itself. We were all the more touched by George Warburg’s motivation for building his collection: in this video interview, he explains not only which works are his favorites, but he also describes his collection as an attempt, retroactively, to save the books which were burned, banned, and eliminated by National Socialists.

His “memorial to the idiocy of Nazi censorship” returns the volumes to daylight which are remembered in Ullmann’s subterranean library.

Mirjam Wenzel, Media