Wire-frame geese and elevator signs

Object lessons on our museum’s history

Young woman wearing blue gloves organizing old tags of staff members of the museum

Trainee Lisa Renner performing inventory; Jewish Museum Berlin, photo: David Studniberg

I still remember my first day of work at the museum well, some months ago. Together with two new colleagues, I rode the elevator one floor down, we passed through two secured doors, and there we were: in the warehouse. There on two iron shelves towered bulging boxes and cartons as well as all kinds of objects — and with them, my job for the next eight months as an academic volunteer at the Jewish Museum Berlin: to set up a little special exhibition on the history of the museum itself.

Somewhat at a loss, I rummaged through a hodgepodge of exhibition papers, invitations, and photographs of people I didn’t know, and asked myself what a wire-frame goose on skateboard wheels or an old elevator sign were doing in a museum.  continue reading


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