“I know!” shouts Tamo* (aged 10): “It’s Jewish writing!” “It’s called Hebrew—Hebrew writing” Mia (aged 10) corrects him. She knows the term because her best friend comes from Israel. She has seen letters like this before, at her friend’s house. Alexander (aged 34) chuckles. He works at the Jewish Museum and is giving a group of primary schoolchildren from Berlin a tour of “The Creation of the World,” our current temporary exhibition. On display are historical manuscripts and artful illustrations. → continue reading
“I chose this clock,” says Leonie* (8 years old) pointing to the showcase. The clock is red and the numbers look a bit strange. She laughs. “A clay clock!” She’s never seen anything like it. The children study the cups, pots, and vases in the big cabinet intently. They gaze, curiously, at the shapes, colors, and designs. They’re supposed to pick the object they like best. Then they’ll learn the name of the ceramicist who made it, its purpose and appearance.
Jona (7) exclaims: “I like this bowl best. Grete made it.” “I think that design is lovely. What would you put in the bowl?” Anna (43) asks him.
Anna is guiding the children from a Berlin elementary school through the cabinet exhibition “Tonalities. Jewish Women Ceramicists from Germany after 1933.” Without hesitating, Jona answers: “Apples or bananas, or even nuts.” “Maybe even pears, or bread!” calls out Elsa (8).
Her favorite object is a candlestick. It’s beige and was made by the ceramicist Hanna. Anna asks the class, “Do you all know what celebration this candlestick would be used for?” Leonie’s hand flies up; she knows the answer: Hanukkah. She has just participated in a candle-dipping workshop for the Jewish Festival of Lights in December.
After the tour, the children start working on their own projects. → continue reading
75 years ago today, on 2 December 1938, the first of the Kindertransport rescue missions arrived in England. Beatrice Steinberg (née Beate Rose), a benefactor of the Jewish Museum Berlin, was among the last of the Jewish children to be saved in this way, by mass evacuation from Nazi-occupied territories. In her memoirs, which are held in our archives, she recalls her departure from Germany in the summer of 1939:
“My mother took me to the train, which turned out to be one of the last Kindertransporte to England [...]. I was so excited that I rushed up the station steps without even saying goodbye to my mother. She called me back. We gave each other a hug and a kiss, then I boarded the train. I stood at the window and we waved goodbye. That was the last time I ever saw her.”
For Beatrice, only twelve years old at the time, the trip was an adventure; for her parents, the decision to let her go off alone, into the unknown, must have been made in great despair. The mass evacuation of children was launched three weeks after the November pogrom. Beate’s father was a prisoner in Buchenwald concentration camp at the time. Like hundreds of thousands of Jewish men and women, her parents hoped to leave Germany as soon as possible. But which country would open its borders to the mass of refugees? Visa restrictions and a bewildering amount of red tape made emigration a protracted and arduous undertaking. → continue reading