“And next Sunday, no one will be thinking of the election anymore”

The 1930 German Federal Election

Black-and-white photograph of a man wearing a suit and glasses reading a newspaper while sitting at a table

Heinz Arzt reading the newspaper, 1920; Jewish Museum Berlin, gift of Hilde Pearton, née Bialostotzky

Recently I was leafing through the inventory listing of a family collection that has been in our archives for many years. I wanted to rework the index in order to bring it up to our current standards. The collection included documents, photographs, and objects from the Arzt and Bialostotzky families. In the twenty-three page inventory, a letter was listed for the Berlin liqueur manufacturer Heinz Arzt (1866–1931) in the category “correspondence,” but neither a sender nor recipient was listed, to say nothing of its contents. The extremely brief description went: “Letter: hand-written, 14 Sept. 1930.”

So I went into the archives and pulled the document numbered 2001/219/28 from box 451 to complete the listing. Suddenly, I was holding a fascinating piece of history in my hands: the so-called letter turned out to be a brief report on the Reichstag election eighty-seven years ago.  continue reading


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).


A great example of what Germany’s achieved in recent years: release him!

Photo of buildings in Berlin’s Kreuzberg-Mitte district

View from the Academy of the Jewish Museum Berlin towards the Springer building with the lit-up sign, #FreeDeniz; Jewish Museum Berlin, photo: Stefanie Haupt

As I leave my office at the Jewish Museum Berlin, emerging from the W. Michael Blumenthal Academy onto the street, the hashtag “#FreeDeniz” beams towards me from an illuminated black-on-turquoise-green display on the Axel Springer building. The first time I saw it, I was cheered by the signal that the publishing house Axel Springer SE* was calling for the release of Die Welt’s correspondent in Turkey, Deniz Yücel. But each day seeing the display has gotten sadder. I’ve known Deniz Yücel since 2003, when — together with other German- and Turkish-speaking Berliners — he organized bilingual protests against the bomb attacks on the two Istanbul synagogues, Neve Shalom and Beth Israel, on November 15 of that year. Twenty-four people were killed in those attacks and at least 300 wounded.

Deniz and I haven’t had contact for quite awhile. But since mid-February, through the news of his imprisonment for “terrorist propaganda” and the car procession protests that followed it, as well as conversations with friends and of course the illuminated sign, memories from the period in 2003 and 2004 when we interacted almost weekly having been coming back.  continue reading