From the ceramic jug to the Pineapple Goblet: Working with archival items

photograph of the storage room of the Jewish Museum Berlin with an opened glass cabinet

View of Jewish Musem-Berlin storage,© Jewish Museum Berlin, photo: Jens Ziehe

It’s cold. The neon light casts a harsh glare. A gray cabinet stands next to another along white walls. The room feels sterile. The air conditioning hums. A gloomy place.

I put on blue, latex gloves, open one of the cabinets and take out a gray carton. Contours of an item shimmer from under layers of tissue paper. Carefully, I take the object out of the carton and free it from the paper; a microcosm of history presents itself, as if this gloomy place accentuates the aura of the item, the room itself taking a whole step back.  continue reading


On international and other remembrance days

Black-white photograph of surviving children of the concentration camp in Auschwitz standing behind a fence

Surviving children in the main concentration camp, Auschwitz. This still from documentary footage shot by Alexander Voronzow shows Tomasz Szwarz, Alicja Gruenbaum, Solomon Rozalin, Gita Sztrauss, Wiera Sadler, Marta Wiess, Boro Eksztein, Josef Rozenwaser, Rafael Szlezinger, Gabriel Nejman, Gugiel Appelbaum, Mark Berkowitz, Pesa Balter, Rut Muszkies, Miriam Friedman, and Miriam and Eva Mozes. Licensed for the public domain by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

Seventy years ago to this day, the Soviet Army liberated the death camps Auschwitz I and II. Almost ten years ago, the anniversary was designated International Holocaust Remembrance Day. Although I’ve been reflecting on representations of the Holocaust in art, literature, and philosophy for many years, I remain irritatingly little affected by today’s date, January 27. In most European countries, official events will once again collectively recall that breach of civilization and commemorate those who were systematically murdered. So too will Germany. Here, the decision to officially commemorate the victims of the Holocaust on this day was reached in 1996—not least because  continue reading


“One of these days I’m going to tell you everything”

Cover of the Graphic novel 'The Boxer'

Cover of the Graphic novel © Reinhard Kleist, The Boxer, Selfmadehero 2014

Several of us at the Jewish Museum Berlin have observed that, over the last few years, the market for young adult literature has begun to demonstrate a growing interest in the subject of Nazism and the Holocaust. In the coming weeks, we will be introducing contemporary and classic works on this topic that we have read and discussed together.

What happened to the people who survived the concentration camps – what was life like afterwards? For their families, their children, the survivors themselves?

Alan Scott Haft’s father Hertzko Haft was a vicious and violent man, the polar opposite of what we would consider today to be a “good father.” Many years passed before Alan Scott Haft understood – and he didn’t really want to know – why his father was that way.

At some point he learned a little more:  continue reading