In the Shadow of the Mengele Myth

Photo Portraits by Noga Shtainer

Portrait of Noga Shtainer

Noga Shtainer during an artist talk celebrating her show in Berlin in 2015 © Noga Shtainer

Noga Shtainer often travels with her camera in tow, for her photography project “Home for Special Children” in the Ukraine, for instance, or for “Twins” in Brazil. Shots from the latter project have been available for purchase from the art vending machine since 1 April 2016 (further information on our website). The photographer has lived since 2010 in Berlin, where I met her two years ago (I wrote about that encounter in a blog post in May of 2015).

The fact that Noga Shtainer is a photographer is itself accidental. She set out to become an actress. But she didn’t pass the entrance auditions for the WIZO School of Art in Haifa and was encouraged instead to apply for a photography class. The deadline for submitting an application portfolio was only two days away, however.  continue reading


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


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