Iron Crosses in Kreuzberg

The Jewish Museum is located in the well-known Berlin neighborhood of Kreuzberg, which is also home to a 66-meter high hill that gave the district its name in 1920: Kreuz meaning ‘cross’ and Berg ‘mount’ or ‘hill’. A monument designed by Friedrich Schinkel had been erected there about 100 years prior in memory of the war of liberation from Napoleon. On top it has always been bedecked with an Iron Cross. Prussian King Friedrich Wilhelm III first endowed the building of the monument 200 years ago, on 10 March 1813, the birthday of his late Queen Luise. A drawing of Schinkel’s design for the Iron Cross has been passed down to the Kupferstichkabinett’s collection (Museum of Prints and Drawings). In 1870 and 1914 respectively, Emperors Wilhelm I and II made subsequent endowments of the Iron Cross for particular service by German soldiers.

Numerous Iron Crosses can be found in the Jewish Museum’s collection, in many cases together with the respective certificates.

50 squares with iron crosses

Iron Crosses in Kreuzberg – view of the object data bank of the Jewish Museum
© Jewish Museum Berlin

They nearly all date from the time of the First World War, in which around 100,000 Jewish soldiers participated on the German side. Among them were Julius Fliess (1876-1955) and Max Haller (1892-1960), whose medals are now in the Jewish Museum’s possession.  continue reading

An Exhibition in Book Form

An unexpected success in England and still climbing bestseller rungs all over the world, The Hare with the Amber Eyes by Edmund de Waal is an exhibition in book form. The author, a potter, tells the history of his Jewish banking family, the Ephrussis, via the artifacts it collected, cared for, and bequeathed. page from the book, with markings

The objects gain meaning via detailed descriptions. Who acquired them, at which time, for what purpose? What do they say about their buyer’s character, heritage, and destiny? Among the artifacts is the title-giving “Hare with Amber Eyes,” one of 264 Japanese netsuke wood and ivory carvings, which changes hands many times.  continue reading