Hannah Arendt—A New Look at a Discerning Political Analyst of Her Own Time

Cover of the special issue on Hannah Arendt of Philosophie Magazin“Something happened there to which we cannot reconcile ourselves. None of us ever can,” said Hannah Arendt with regard to Auschwitz and its repercussions during a now legendary TV interview with Günter Gaus. A two-minute excerpt from that encounter serves today in our permanent exhibition as introduction to a film installation concerning the Auschwitz Trial (cf. this blog entry about the reopening of that part of the exhibition in summer 2013).

In our exhibition of the work of Fred Stein in 2013/14 we presented photographs inter alia of the political theorist Arendt herself, as you can read in our blog and on the exhibition website.

Hannah Arendt is a major influence also on contemporary artists: Alex Martinis Roe, in the work she produced for our art vending machine, “A Letter to Deutsche Post,” demanded a re-issue of the postage stamps bearing Arendt’s portrait (cf. our interview with the artist in this blog). Also, a symposium held at our museum last December drew on the work of Hannah Arendt as a springboard for discussion of the current significance of pluralism in theory and practice (cf. the topics addressed there, as listed in our events calendar).

Philosophie Magazin has just devoted a special issue to this exceptional thinker. Titled Hannah Arendt. Die Freiheit des Denkens [Hannah Arendt. The Freedom of Thought], on the newsstands as of 16 June.  continue reading

How I Discovered My Inner Hans-Jürgen:

Our Project on the Topography of Jewish Life in Germany

Dana Müller is taking a photo of a stumbling stone

Stumbling stone in remembrance of Editha Machol in Yorkstraße 88 in Berlin-Kreuzberg; Jewish Museum Berlin

“I was playing Hans-Jürgen for you again,” my father said gleefully when he called me over Whit Weekend. Hans-Jürgen is 68, a retired teacher, and interested in regional Jewish history. My father, however, is not a retired teacher and his name is actually Rudi, but he had displayed what one could call Hans-Jürgenesque behavior: he participated in a public tour of a Jewish cemetery in his hometown, recorded his impressions with a camera, and sent them to us in Berlin. For Hans-Jürgen doesn’t really exist: he’s just a fictitious person we used in order to develop a prototype – a kind of pre-testing version – for a cartographic app. This prototype is the foundation for the online portal, which we at the Jewish Museum Berlin want to complete construction on in the next two years. The goal is to gather – all in one place, for the first time – comprehensive geographical information on Jewish life in Germany and make it accessible online in an interactive map.  continue reading

An Unsolvable Mystery?

A Photo Collection Found Hiding in Berlin-Friedrichshain

Black and white photograph of a girl standing in front of a door

A girl standing in front of a door, presumably Berlin, about 1918–1922; Jewish Museum Berlin

Every time I open a new folder of photos, I can’t know what’s waiting for me – what faces I’ll find or fates will be revealed. Images are often part of a larger collection, consisting of documents, everyday articles and artwork, for which we already know the biographies of those pictured or can further research. Such was the case, for example, of the cabaret artist, Olga Irén Fröhlich, whom I’ve written about before on this blog. This time, however, the people in the photographs will remain unknown to me; I won’t be able to attach names or histories to them. Perhaps you can!

It’s not out of the ordinary to work with collections that have been in the Museum’s possession for decades.  continue reading