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

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

The Legacy of a Long Career: Success Against All Odds

Film Historian Claudia Dillmann on the Artur Brauner Film Collection in Our Library

The German film producer and Shoah survivor Artur Brauner has kindly donated to our Museum twenty-one films on the subject of the Shoah and the Nazi era—you’ll find the complete list on our website. Today, the Museum acknowledges our great appreciation of this gift with a special event in the presence of Artur Brauner and his family.

Portrait of Claudia Dillmann

Claudia Dillmann
Photo: Deutsches Filminstitut/Uwe Dettmar

Prior to the event we interviewed film historian Claudia Dillmann about Artur Brauner and the appeal of his film productions, in particular for a Jewish Museum. Ms. Dillmann is Director of the German Film Institute in Frankfurt Main and a renowned expert on Artur Brauner, and also initiated the online resource She talked to us about Brauner’s interest in the victims of Nazi crimes, the balancing acts it has called for, his veneration of Romy Schneider, and the German public’s tastes.

Mirjam Bitter, Blog Editor: Ms. Dillman, in your opinion, how representative is our Artur Brauner Film Collection of Mr. Brauner’s entire production list?

Claudia Dillmann: The films that Artur Brauner has donated to the Jewish Museum are indeed representative since they constitute a pivot of his career—one very dear to his heart—namely an abiding commitment to exposing the Holocaust, not least because forty-nine of his own relatives also lost their lives then. He sees these films as his personal “legacy,” one he has been forging since the start of his career. They are dedicated to victims of the Nazi regime and constitute a cycle that in his view is still not complete. In them, he has continually explored new facets of persecution under the Nazi terror and of the traumata he lived through himself.  continue reading