Martin Riesenburger’s Service Card
This document, a "service card" written on headed paper of the Jewish Community of Berlin, certified in February 1953 that Martin Riesenburger (1896–1965) was employed as a rabbi and responsible for the psychological care of the prisoners. The card appears makeshift: It was not preprinted, is not on reinforced paper or card, and the passport photo is only stapled to the page. And what does "psychological care in the prisons" mean?
The Jewish Community of Berlin was split over the intensification of the East-West conflict in early 1953. The Jews of East Germany suffered reprisals: They were accused of disloyalty to the GDR. Several hundred Jews escaped from East Berlin. The East Berlin community came under surveillance and individual community members were arrested. It is possible that Rabbi Riesenburger was responsible for these prisoners and was granted permission to visit them in prison.
Riesenburger survived the Nazi era thanks to his non-Jewish wife. Following liberation, he led the first Jewish service of worship in Berlin in May 1945. The East German government appointed Martin Riesenburger as the state rabbi to the Jewish community in the GDR.
Jewish Community of Berlin service card
Berlin, 16 February 1953
Paper, ink, photograph, staples
14,9 x 21 cm