The Legacy of a Long Career: Success Against All Odds

Film Historian Claudia Dillmann on the Artur Brauner Film Collection in Our Library

The German film producer and Shoah survivor Artur Brauner has kindly donated to our Museum twenty-one films on the subject of the Shoah and the Nazi era—you’ll find the complete list on our website. Today, the Museum acknowledges our great appreciation of this gift with a special event in the presence of Artur Brauner and his family.

Portrait of Claudia Dillmann

Claudia Dillmann
Photo: Deutsches Filminstitut/Uwe Dettmar

Prior to the event we interviewed film historian Claudia Dillmann about Artur Brauner and the appeal of his film productions, in particular for a Jewish Museum. Ms. Dillmann is Director of the German Film Institute in Frankfurt Main and a renowned expert on Artur Brauner, and also initiated the online resource She talked to us about Brauner’s interest in the victims of Nazi crimes, the balancing acts it has called for, his veneration of Romy Schneider, and the German public’s tastes.

Mirjam Bitter, Blog Editor: Ms. Dillman, in your opinion, how representative is our Artur Brauner Film Collection of Mr. Brauner’s entire production list?

Claudia Dillmann: The films that Artur Brauner has donated to the Jewish Museum are indeed representative since they constitute a pivot of his career—one very dear to his heart—namely an abiding commitment to exposing the Holocaust, not least because forty-nine of his own relatives also lost their lives then. He sees these films as his personal “legacy,” one he has been forging since the start of his career. They are dedicated to victims of the Nazi regime and constitute a cycle that in his view is still not complete. In them, he has continually explored new facets of persecution under the Nazi terror and of the traumata he lived through himself.  continue reading

There’s a Fair Upstairs,

or Why Toy Dogs Aren’t Allowed in the Museum

A small dog in a bag

Photo by Gertraud Zimmermann from an article on

Some time ago an entire extended family from Berlin wanted to visit the Jewish Museum Berlin, with grandma and the whole kit and caboodle—including their toy dog Choux-Choux. Heading in towards the permanent exhibition, every member of the family passed through the ticket check smoothly … except the father. This well-built gentleman was carrying a little bag under his arm—with a tiny dog peaking out of it.

The museum’s hosts amiably informed the patriarch that the dog was permitted in the lobby and museum garden, but not in the exhibitions. They did not, however, encounter much forbearance and a heated discussion ensued. The argument went, “This is a toy dog. He’s allowed everywhere!” The surprised hosts, who had up till that moment never heard the term ‘toy dog,’ followed up on the unresolved question: why in fact couldn’t Choux-Choux come into the museum?  continue reading

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