“… to air out the cloak of anonymity.”

An Early April Fool’s Joke from the Year 1931

Envelope posted 13 March 1931

Envelope posted 13 March 1931; Jewish Museum Berlin, Gift of Margaret Littman and Susan Wolkowicz, the daughters of Hilde Gabriel née Salomonis

Sometimes figuring out how to classify a document correctly according to its historical context can depend on just one tiny, even seemingly unrelated detail. I was reminded of this again while working on the inventory of a recent donation to our archive. With more than 3,000 documents, photographs, and objects, the Gabriel-Salomonis family collection includes among other things an extensive correspondence. This consists of letters, postcards, and even telegrams, and as I sorted through these items, I came across an exchange of four letters from the early spring of 1931. Two were handwritten: composed and signed, quite legibly, by the then 72-year-old, Berlin resident Ernestine Stahl (1858–1933). The author of the other two type-written letters was at first uncertain, not least because his signature was missing. Ernestine Stahl addressed him in her replies only as “Sir” and “Dear Sir.”

I was able to solve this little riddle, however, by looking at an envelope that turned up elsewhere of the bundle of papers but appeared to belong to this brief exchange.  continue reading

My Favorite Photograph: “Newspaper Hat”

Theresia Ziehe, curator of the exhibition “In an Instant. Photographs by Fred Stein,” explains in the following video clip why she especially likes Fred Stein’s photograph “Newspaper Hat” (New York, 1946):

Woody Allen’s German Typewriter

Woody Allen: A Documentary presents the life and work of one of the most influential Jewish filmmakers of the past half-century. In a series of interviews, colleagues and peers tell anecdotes and bestow panegyrics on Allen, among them Martin Scorsese, Diane Keaton, Scarlett Johansson, Naomi Watts, and Stephen Tenenbaum.

Woody Allen with headphones and camera

Woody Allen, © MCM, Foto: Brian Hamill

Unfortunately, few say more than what a “great guy” Allen is and how fantastic it is to work with him. The movie hints at, but misses every opportunity to ask more pertinent questions: How does Allen understand his Jewish background as a source and subject of his humour? Growing up in New York of the 1940s, how did National Socialism shape the neurotic Jewish characters he embodies in his films? What “in the early 1940s” turned him, a happy toddler, into a grumpy child? And why does he type his screenplays on an antiquated German typewriter he compares to a tank, which he believes will outlive him? A cinematographic equivalent of yellow press reporting, the film doesn’t do justice to one of the more subtle and intellectual figures in popular culture. (Woody Allen: A Documentary, directed by Robert B. Weide)

Naomi Lubrich, Media

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