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Ehrich & Graetz

Jewish Forced Laborers at Ehrich & Graetz in Berlin Treptow


The boxes with passport photos

These boxes with passport photos of Jewish forced laborers working for the company Ehrich & Graetz in Berlin-Treptow were bequeathed to the museum in 1988.
© Jewish Museum Berlin, photo: Jens Ziehe, Berlin

Photographs, letters, documents, and individual exhibits are displayed at the showcase exhibition at the Jewish Museum Berlin which illustrate the course of a fifteen-year research period and allow insight into both the life stories of individual forced laborers and the work of the Museum.

In 1988, the Jewish section of the Berlin Museum acquired some unique historical documents: a box of almost 1,000 passport photographs kept in parchment cases. It gradually became apparent that these were photographs of over 500 Berlin Jews who were bound to forced labor at the metal and electrical firm Ehrich & Graetz in Berlin Treptow between fall 1940 and February 1943. Two company employees were able to salvage the photos in the last days of the war. Although the names of the photographed are recorded, a great deal of questions still arose.

Who were the photographs of? How did the people they represent live and what were their fates? Did any of them survive and if yes, how did they do so and what course did their lives take after the war?

These questions started an intense research process which is still continuing and has led to a great deal of correspondence, numerous contacts being established and meetings arranged. One outcome of this research is the Museum publication "Jewish Forced Laborers at Ehrich & Graetz" which was published by DuMont Publishers for literature and art in September 2003. The publication of this volume again led to further establishment of contacts, donations and loans to the Jewish Museum Berlin.

Passport photo of Ruth Prager, forced laborer at Ehrich & Graetz

Passport photo of Ruth Prager, forced laborer at Ehrich & Graetz
© Jewish Museum Berlin

The showcase exhibition narrates several life stories, among them that of Hans A. Rosenthal, a former forced laborer at Ehrich & Graetz. He played a key role in the Museum's inquiries although he only learned about the photographs of the forced laborers at a reception for a group of former Berlin Jews organized by the Berlin Senate in 1993. The contact to the Museum not only yielded a number of new details about people Hans A. Rosenthal knew, but he also received important information on the fates and whereabouts of former friends and acquaintances. He was able to reestablish contact with some of them after over 50 years. The biologist and former director of virology at the Berlin Charité Hospital worked closely with the Museum within the framework of the book publication and so told of his imprisonment at the Rosenstraße assembly camp. His mother and a lot of other women protested for days in Rosenstraße for the release of their sons and husbands.

When

21 April 2004 - 27 September 2004

Where

Jewish Museum Berlin, Libeskind Building, Rafael Roth Learning Center

Admission

There is no extra charge for this exhibition; the regular entrance fee applies.

Stefan Prager, who lives in Sweden, discovered more about the fate of his own mother through the Museum publication. On 27 October 1941, his parents Ruth and Wolfgang Prager were deported from Berlin to Ghetto Lodz where they were killed. Stefan Prager had been in contact with one of the Museum archivists for some time and put copies of a number of documents and photographs of his family at the Museum's disposal in 1999. Among them were letters sent by his parents in Berlin to Sweden where he and his sister had been taken on a children's transport (Kindertransport) in spring 1939. His mother was then bound to forced labor at Ehrich & Graetz - a photo of her in the Museum publication documents this. The archivist drew his attention to this fact and it came to light that he did not know of his mother's forced labor at Ehrich & Graetz. On rereading the letters, he found several references to his mother's work at the factory. Stefan Prager donated these letters to the Museum at the end of last year.

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