From idyllic landscape views to the trenches: seeing the First World War through an army doctor’s photographs

black and white photograph of three uniformed soldiers

Carl Hartog (first from left) with two colleagues, Douai, January 1914 © Jewish Museum Berlin. Donated by Virginia Van Leer Dittrich

Visitors can see an album with photographs of places along the Western front in our cabinet exhibition “The First World War in Jewish Memory” for only another few days. The album is part of the bequest of a Berliner gynecologist Dr. Carl Hartog (1877-1931), having been given to the museum at the end of 2001 by Hartog’s granddaughter Virginia Van Leer Dittrich.

Born the son of a leather manufacturer in 1877 in Goch on the Lower Rhine, Carl Hartog studied medicine in Munich, Bonn, and Würzburg. He subsequently established a practice as an ob-gyn in Berlin but, having already done a half year of military service as a student, he stayed loyal to the military as a working professional.  continue reading


Photographic testimony: on the history of the Herbert Sonnenfeld collection

108 years ago, on 29 September 1906, in the Neukölln neighborhood of Berlin, the photographer Herbert Sonnenfeld caught his first glimpse of the light of the world.

His photographs constitute one of the largest and most important portfolios in the Jewish Museum Berlin’s photographic archive. The Sonnenfeld collection consists of some 3000 negatives taken between 1933 and 1938. Along with Abraham Pisarek and Arno Kikoler, Sonnenfeld is one of the few Jewish photographers to document Jewish life in and around Berlin in the 1930s, passing down to us today an unparalleled photographic witness to that period.

Black and white picture of an man with a camera in his hands. He looks directly at the phtographer

Herbert Sonnenfeld, photograph by Leni Sonnenfeld, Berlin ca. 1935
© Jewish Museum Berlin, purchased with funds from the Stiftung Deutsche Klassenlotterie Berlin

Herbert Sonnenfeld first worked as an insurance employee before being laid off as a result of the Nazi regime’s anti-Semitic measures. He came to photography circuitously and was an autodidact. Following a trip to Palestine in 1933, his wife Leni approached various Jewish newspapers and offered them her husband’s pictures. They were enthusiastic, promptly bought up the prints, and asked for more. Thus began Sonnenfeld’s career as a press photographer.
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My Favorite Photograph: “Newspaper Hat”

Theresia Ziehe, curator of the exhibition “In an Instant. Photographs by Fred Stein,” explains in the following video clip why she especially likes Fred Stein’s photograph “Newspaper Hat” (New York, 1946):