A New Home in Sweden

The sixth and final installment in our blog series “Memories from the Life of Walter Frankenstein”

In the black-and-white photo, the family is in a room with patterned curtains and houseplants. All four are smiling or laughing. The image is very lively.

The Frankenstein family in their apartment, Bandhagen (outside of Stockholm), around 1956–1957; Jewish Museum Berlin, gift of Leonie and Walter Frankenstein

To start from the beginning again: when I consider the path that Walter Frankenstein and his family took, I’m constantly astonished that they didn’t lose hope and always found new strength to confront the numerous changes in their lives. In 1956, the final big challenge in the lives of the four Frankensteins got underway.

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A Life Underground

The third episode in our blog series “Memories from the Life of Walter Frankenstein”

“Her and no one else,” said Walter Frankenstein the first time he saw his future wife Leonie Rosner in the courtyard of the Auerbach Jewish Orphanage. Leonie was from Leipzig and in Berlin she had begun training at the Jewish Seminar for Nursery School Teachers.

Black and white photography

Leonie Frankenstein with her son Peter-Uri sitting in a meadow, Brzeźno in Gorzów County (German: Briesenhorst), May 1944; Jewish Museum Berlin, gift of Leonie and Walter Frankenstein

After it was closed, she came to the Auerbach Jewish Orphanage as an apprentice. Soon after her arrival, Leonie’s room quickly became the place where apprentices living in the orphanage met. Seventeen-year-old Walter grew closer to Leonie (three years his senior) over conversations about religion, Judaism, emigration to Palestine, and daily life. In fall 1941, after the director threatened to fire Leonie over her behavior toward a student, the young couple decided to leave “Auerbach”. Walter and Leonie subletted a room with the Mendel family in Prenzlauer Berg. Soon after that they decided to get married. They had heard that married couples would be spared deportation. Under-aged Walter had to get his mother’s permission for the wedding, which took place on February 10, 1942.

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Exhibition Tip: Shalom. 3 Photographers Look at Germany

Readers of our blog may be interested to learn that from 5 May to 3 September, the Museum in the Kulturbrauerei is hosting the exhibition Shalom. 3 Photographers Look at Germany. Holger Biermann | Rafael Herlich | Benyamin Reich. Here is a snippet from the exhibition announcement:

A kosher food store in Berlin, a rabbi’s family with a new-born, police officers standing guard at a Frankfurt synagogue – scenes from everyday Jewish life in Germany. These photographs by Holger Biermann, Rafael Herlich and Benyamin Reich from 2000 to 2015 document Jewish life and culture from different perspectives – not only showing children in a Talmud School or practicing Jews celebrating Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, but also anti- Semitic graffiti daubed on a synagogue.

The exhibition encourages visitors to engage with the question: How far is Jewish life taken for granted as a normal part of German society 70 years after the Shoah?

Opening times: Tues-Sun 10 am–6 pm, Thurs 10 am–8 pm
Free admission

More information, on supplementary offerings for example, can be found on the website of the Museum in the Kulturbrauerei (in German).