Names Come to Life

Black and white photograph of an elderly couple

Emanuel and Johanna Stern, ca. 1903; Jewish Museum Berlin, gift of Alexander Summerville

Just over two years ago, I penned a blog text describing a Passover Haggada that I had purchased online. It caught my attention due to the lists of names written on the inside front and back covers of individuals who attended the Passover Seders over the course of seven years that were held in two residences in Berlin, both of which were in close proximity to the Jewish Museum Berlin. Research revealed a substantial amount of information about various persons named therein and my text concluded with the hope that contact might be established with descendants of some of those found in the lists.

At the end of March of this year, I flew to Stockholm to visit Alexander Summerville, the great grandson of Paul Aron, in whose home in the Hedemannstraße 13/14 Passover Seders took place in five of the years for which lists exist in the Haggada.  continue reading


A Reminder in the Mail

With Her Art Shira Wachsmann Addresses the Nearly Forgotten Genocide of the Herero and Nama Peoples in Present-Day Namibia

Shira Wachsmann in her workshop

The artist Shira Wachsmann in her workshop
CC-BY Saro Gorgis

The streets of Kreuzberg are soaked through with rain on this grey February day. Shira Wachsmann, a graceful young woman with short black hair, leads me into her atelier in a pre-war apartment. She doesn’t have much time. Her solo exhibition “Tribe Fire” is scheduled to open on 13 March 2016 in the gallery cubus-m in Berlin’s Schöneberg neighborhood (further information on the gallery’s website). It will remain there until 23 April. Large drawings, soon to become part of the Tribe Fire installation, hang in the atelier. “There’s still a lot to do,” the Israeli native explains.

Her most recent art project is spread across her desk: two postcards that Wachsmann designed for the Jewish Museum Berlin. She produced editions of 400 of each piece, which have been available for individual purchase since 1 April 2016 in the art vending machine of the museum’s permanent exhibition (more information on the art vending machine on our website). Wachsmann takes a seat in a green armchair and ponders the cards. They show two circular motifs, a form that appears throughout the artist’s work like a guiding principle. Here they depict an abstract diamond and a black sun.  continue reading

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Shot by German Police in 1946

The Tragic Fate of Shmuel Dancyger Z. L.

Black and white photograph of people at a grave

The family at the grave of Shmuel Dancyger; Jewish Museum Berlin, gift of Morris Dancyger

During a visit to my hometown of Calgary Alberta, Canada in the summer of 2014, I had the opportunity to meet with Morris and Ann Dancyger, both child survivors of the Holocaust. Morris Dancyger was one of the very few children to have been liberated by the Russians at Auschwitz on 27 January 1945. In the iconic footage of the children displaying their tattooed arms, four year old Morris is in the center of the picture. Ann Dancyger and her mother had miraculously survived an execution in 1942 near the town of Ratno where she was born, and spent nearly three years thereafter in hiding. After a nearly two year trek to Germany following the end of the war, she was able to come to Calgary where relatives lived. I had not known the Dancygers while growing up in the city, and although I had much later read about the tragic fate of Morris Dancyger’s father Shmuel, I was completely unaware that his wife and children had settled in Calgary.  continue reading