The Blow of a Hammer in the Rap of the Gavel

The Last Signs of a Life in Germany Sold at Auction 75 Years Ago

A suitcase filled with documents, photos and objects

Franziska Bogdanov, unpacking the suitcase from Arno Roland’s bequest
Jewish Museum Berlin CC-BY Katharina Erbe

The items in our archives have arrived here through the most various means: we have donations from German-Jewish emigrants from all over the world as well as gifts from their estates, donated to the museum after they have died by their children. We also receive some gifts from Germany, occasionally from people who aren’t themselves Jewish and yet some memorabilia from a Jewish friend or acquaintance was passed down through the generations in their family.

At the end of this last year we received a donation from the estate of a one-time Berliner who recently died in New Jersey (USA). It consisted of a large suitcase filled to the brim with documents, letters, photographs, and other objects.  continue reading


Fascinating Family History

A Look at the Radzewski Family Photo Collection

We all have family: father, mother, children, grandchildren, grandparents, aunts, uncles, or just relatives casually come across at family reunions or known from photos. “The uncle, living abroad, with the daughter and the grandchildren – don’t you remember him?” We’ve all heard that.

Black and white photo of a girl and a woman at a door

The donor, Vera de Jong with her mother, Meta Krotoschiner in front of their home in Santiago, Chile, in 1952, following immigration © Jewish Museum Berlin, gift of Vera de Jong, née Krotoschiner-Radzewski

What happens when there’s no one to keep telling these stories? Only a photo of these people remain, if you’re lucky, sometimes a postcard that says nothing. This isn’t only the case in our private lives. As museum workers, we confront this challenge on a daily basis, especially when inventorying collections of donors’ family photographs. Each photo poses the same questions: Where was this? Who were these people – friends or relatives? What’s the story behind the image?

Fortunately we have help. Along with the photographs, donors provide and entrust us with their memories. Vera de Jong, born Krotoschiner-Radzewski, is one such example. Last year she gave our museum some 200 family photos (further information about the Photographic Collection on our website). As an academic trainee, it was then my task to inventory this collection and research its history. I was immediately taken by these charming images and, while researching them, understood their historical value, helping us uncover more than a century of family history.  continue reading


Contraband on Display

A long showcase with books, booklets and a map

View of the cabinet exhibition “In a foreign country. Publications from the Displaced Persons Camps” in the basement of the Libeskind Building.
© Jewish Museum Berlin, photo: Jens Ziehe

In our cabinet exhibition “In a foreign country” we explore the publishing operations of survivors and refugees, the so-called displaced persons (DPs) who were stranded in occupied Germany after 1945. For this show we selected the widest variety of genres: schoolbooks, Judaica, volumes of poetry and prose, historical documentation, and Zionist pamphlets.

They all have two things in common: first, the quality of the paper these post-war printers used was extremely bad. Second, they all come from the Berlin State Library, whom we’re hosting for this exhibition due to its historically valuable collection of DP literature.

With one little exception.  continue reading