From the Imperial German Navy to the Israeli War Fleet: Life Story of an Accomplished Seaman

From Our Holdings

The sailor Max Haller's (1892–1960) personal collection of his medals from the First World War is displayed on a velvet cushion. The son of a synagogue cantor from Silesia began work as a machinist on German merchant vessels in 1911 and joined the Imperial German Navy two years later. He volunteered for service in the German submarine fleet in 1915 and was on active duty in the Mediterranean until the end of the war.

Awarded Thrice Over

Max Haller received military decoration from three allied empires. The Austrian emperor honored him with the Medal for Bravery bearing the portrait of Charles I. The Ottoman Empire presented the German seaman with the Iron Crescent, also known as the Gallipoli Star, and the Liakat Medal of Merit with a red-and-green ribbon. He received First and Second Class Iron Crosses and the Submarine War Badge, first introduced in 1918, from the German Empire.

Medals as Symbols of Patriotism

Around 100,000 German Jews fought in the First World War, of whom approximately 12,000 fell, among them Max Haller's two brothers. Max Haller later opened a radio shop in Berlin, which was threatened by Nazi brownshirts in the boycott of April 1933. Haller pointedly placed this velvet cushion with his medals in the display window as an sign of his service for his country. Perhaps for this reason, his shop was unharmed apart from marks on the windows.

Emigration to Palestine

Haller decided to leave Germany, and emigrated with his family to Palestine in the fall of 1933. There he returned to seafaring as chief engineer on various merchant ships. At the age of 56, he volunteered once again for active duty in the newly formed naval arm of the Israeli Defense Forces. He retired as a captain in 1957.

(9) Selected Objects from the Material Culture Collection Alle anzeigen

Selected Objects from the Material Culture Collection

Flag with the Star of David

In 1935, Martin Friedländer hung a blue and white flag from his window, making a confident statement against the racist Nuremberg Laws.

Frieda Neuber's Leather Pouch

Shortly before being deported to Theresienstadt, Frieder Neuber gave this leather pouch to her niece. The letters inside it document her desperate attempts to leave the country.

Memmelsdorf Genizah

In February 2002, workers renovating a house discovered a burlap sack filled with papers and personal items when they opened up a section of the ceiling. The house had been owned by Jews from 1775 to 1939.

Model of the Cargo Steamer Max

The Hamburg shipowner Arnold Bernstein received this model of his first ship in 1929 as a gift for his company's tenth anniversary. Eight years later, his career ended abruptly. He was detained and only managed to escape Germany at the last minute.

Max Haller's Collection of Medals

Max Haller fought in the First World War for the Imperial German Navy. When SA members threatened him during the April Boycott of 1933, he pointedly placed a velvet cushion with his military distinctions in the shop window.

Dr. Oscar Hirschberg's Office Signs

A total of seven office signs used by Dr. Oscar Hirschberg document both his career as a practicing physician and the political changes and antisemitic exclusion during the period of Nazi rule.

The Sommerfelds’ Thirty-One Keys

Thirty-one keys – that's all that remains of the luggage the Sommerfeld family took with them when they emigrated from Berlin. They only managed to leave for England at the very last minute – just before the Second World War broke out.

Challenge Trophy from the Oberspree Jewish Rowing Club

The member of the Oberspree Jewish rowing club who logged the most kilometers in the water over the course of a year was awarded a challenge trophy. Fred Eisenberg won the award three years in a row.

Stamping Hammer, Invented by Gustav Maletzki

This stamping hammer, made around 1930, is one of the patented inventions for which the apparel furrier earned several awards. In 1938, Gustav Maletzki was forced to escape Germany and brought the hammer to exile in Bolivia.

April Boycott

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Resistance and Self-Assertion

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Military

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First World War

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