Director of the Jewish Museum Berlin
Peter Schäfer was appointed as the new director of the Jewish Museum Berlin Foundation on 1 September 2014. He is one of the most respected international scholars of Jewish Studies of our time.
Peter Schäfer was born in 1943 in Hückeswagen, Germany, and grew up in Mühlheim on the Ruhr. He studied Catholic Theology, Philosophy, and the still young subject of Jewish Studies in Bonn, Jerusalem, and Freiburg, before receiving his doctorate in Jewish Studies in 1968. Peter Schäfer completed his habilitation at the University of Frankfurt in 1973, then held teaching positions at the universities of Tübingen and Cologne. From 1983 to 2008, he was Professor and Director of the Institute of Jewish Studies at the Free University of Berlin. In 1998, he was appointed Ronald O. Perelman Professor of Jewish Studies and Professor of Religion at Princeton University. From 2005 to 2013, Peter Schäfer served as Director of Princeton’s Program in Judaic Studies.
For his academic work, he has been honored with numerous awards including the Leibniz Prize in 1994, Germany’s most prestigious research funding prize. In 2007, Peter Schäfer received the Mellon Award, the highest prize for scholars of the humanities in the United States. He was honored for his substantial initiative in reviving the tradition of Jewish studies in Germany. Schäfer is the only academic to have received both the Mellon Award and the Leibniz Prize. In 2008 he was awarded the Ruhr Prize of Art and Sciences, in 2013 the Howard T. Behrman Award for Distinguished Achievement in the Humanities and in 2014 the Dr. Leopold Lucas Prize from the University of Tübingen.
Honorary doctorate degrees are held by Peter Schäfer from the University of Utrecht and the University of Tel Aviv. He has enjoyed several visiting professorships and is active in numerous organizations like the British Academy, the American Philosophical Society and the American Academy for Jewish Research. In 2002/03 he became a fellow at the “Historisches Kolleg” in Munich and in 2007/08 at the “Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin.” For many years, Schäfer chaired the "Verband der Judaisten in der Bundesrepublik Deutschland e.V." and has been an honorary member since 2013.
He has published numerous books and academic papers.
Peter Schäfer lives in Berlin with his wife Barbara Schäfer. They have a son and two daughters.
Program Director of the Jewish Museum Berlin
Cilly Kugelmann assumed her position as program director and vice director of the Jewish Museum Berlin in September 2002. She came to the museum as head of the education department in May 2000. In 2001, she also became head of the research and exhibition departments. She comes from Frankfurt am Main where she worked at the city's Jewish Museum, directing the education program as well as public relations, and acting as curator (1986-2000).
Born in Frankfurt am Main in 1947, Cilly Kugelmann left for Israel in 1966 where she first spent a year as an agricultural laborer on a kibbutz in Galilee. She went on to study art history and general history at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. She returned to Germany in 1971 and began a degree in educational sciences, sociology, and psychology. Alongside her studies and then subsequent to them (1972-1999), she organized conferences within the context of political education on the subjects of Jewish history and the conflict in the Middle East.
After her degree she lead courses on integration for immigrants and asylum-seekers from Eastern European states for the National Education Federation (1978-1982), built a self-help company for the chronically ill at the department for psychiatry and social psychiatry of the Elisabeth Foundation Hospital in Darmstadt (1982-1985), took on teaching posts from the educational sciences department of the Ruprecht-Karls University (1982-1984), where she collaborated on an empirical investigation into Sinti and Roma's experiences of persecution during the National Socialist era (1984-1986).
She has been part of the editorial team of the magazine "Babylon, Contributions to Contemporary Jewish Living" since 1980 and has been involved in the publication of several books on the post-war history of Jews in Germany and on anti-Semitism.
Managing Director of the Jewish Museum Berlin
Martin Michaelis took on the post of managing director at the Jewish Museum Berlin in March 2014. He is responsible for the budget, personnel, central services, rights management and contracts, press and public relations, marketing and development.
Born in Göttingen in 1972, Martin Michaelis grew up in Hamburg and studied law in Heidelberg, Cologne, and Hamburg. He worked at the Institute for International Affairs at the University of Hamburg from 1999, where his main consideration was the international protection of intellectual property. In 2006, Martin Michaelis was admitted to the bar and spent five years working for PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC). Martin Michaelis joined the German Federal Court of Auditors (Bundesrechnungshof) in 2011 to focus on issues of tax, budgetary, and procurement law.
Organizational Director of the Jewish Museum Berlin
Bülent Durmus took on the post of organizational director at the Jewish Museum Berlin in March 2008. Events, visitor research, visitor services, and the ongoing development of the internal organizational structure are all part of this newly created business division of organizational development. In the administrative sphere, facility management, security, and IT are further areas of his responsibility.
Bülent Durmus represented the museum’s interests during the period when the permanent exhibition was being installed and the modification measures planned by Daniel Libeskind were being undertaken between May 2000 and September 2001. From 2002, he masterminded the set up of the technical department at the Jewish Museum Berlin as an external advisor. He then went on to head the technical department at the Jewish Museum Berlin from 2003 to 2008.
Born in Izmit/Turkey in 1970, Bülent Durmus has lived in Berlin since 1971 and is married with three children. Following his school education, he studied architecture at Berlin’s Technical University and gathered experience at various architectural firms throughout his studies. In 1998, he presented his diploma thesis entitled "The Turkish Embassy in Berlin-Tiergarten." Following this, he worked freelance for architectural firms. From 1999 to 2000, he was involved in establishing the business divisions for planning, manufacturing, purchasing, and sales for a modular steel-pipe construction company. He has been a member of the Berlin Chamber of Architects since 2003.
W. Michael Blumenthal
Founding Director of the Jewish Museum Berlin
Following a diverse and unusual career as economics professor, politician, manager and author, W. Michael Blumenthal was director of the Jewish Museum Berlin from 1997 to September 2014. Also in 2015, he will continue to serve the museum in an advisory capacity as founding director for a transitional period.
W. Michael Blumenthal was born in Oranienburg near Berlin in 1926. His family moved to Berlin when he was three years old. In 1938, his father was deported to Buchenwald where he was held and mistreated for six weeks. After his release, the family was able to escape to Shanghai where they survived the war.
In 1947, W. Michael Blumenthal immigrated to the United States and became a U.S. citizen in 1952. After completing his Ph.D. at the renowned Princeton University, he was professor of economics there from 1953 to 1956. He then joined Crown Cork International Corporation where he rose to vice president and director.
In the 1960s, he entered politics and public service. He served in the State Department from 1961 until 1967 as advisor on trade to Presidents Kennedy and Johnson. Ten years as president and then chairman of the board with Bendix International followed before President Jimmy Carter appointed him as Secretary of the Treasury in 1977. In 1979, W. Michael Blumenthal resigned from this position. He returned to the business sector and joined Burroughs Corporation in 1980 as vice chairman, then chairman of the board a year later. After a merger into the Unisys Corporation in 1986, he became chairman and CEO of Unisys. Following his retirement, he was first partner, then advisor of Lazard Frères & Co. LLC (1990-96).
It was during this period that W. Michael Blumenthal turned his attention to the history of German Jews. Researching the life stories of his ancestors – among them Rachel Varnhagen, famous for her ‘Berliner Salons,’ the opera composer Giacomo Meyerbeer, and literary critic Arthur Eloesser – he knitted their biographies into the larger historical framework in his book "The Invisible Wall: 300 Years of a German-Jewish Family," which was published in 1998. It traces the difficult relationship of German gentiles and Jews since the 17th century and explores the question of how the catastrophe of the Holocaust could have come about.
Following his appointment as director of the Jewish Museum Berlin in 1997, the museum’s primary focus shifted from the history of Berlin Jews to German-Jewish history in its totality. The long-aspired independent status for the museum from the Stiftung Stadtmuseum (Foundation of the City Museum) was granted on 1 January 1999. In 2001, the 14th German Bundestag passed the law to form a "Jewish Museum Berlin Foundation," which has since been a foundation directly under federal government control. Its festive opening took place in September 2001. In recognition of his work in Berlin, W. Michael Blumenthal was awarded the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany in June 1999 and the Leo Baeck Medal in New York in November 1999. In June 2000, he became an Honorary Citizen of the city of Oranienburg and in 2002, he was honored with the Goethe Medal and the Order of Merit of the State of Berlin. In November 2006, he was awarded the Great Cross of Merit with Star of the Federal Republic of Germany. The American Jewish Committee (AJC) honored him with the "Ernst Cramer Award" in March 2008, the Jewish Community of Berlin awarded him the Heinz-Galinski prize in October 2011. In 2012/2013, he received the Roland Berger Human Dignity Award, in 2013 the Lucius D. Clay Medal from the German-American Society, and in May 2014 the "Estrongo Nachama Prize for Tolerance and Civil Courage." In April 2015, the Founding Director of the Jewish Museum Berlin, W. Michael Blumenthal, was awarded honorary citizenship of the City of Berlin. The Governing Mayor of Berlin, Michael Müller, and the President of the Berlin House of Representatives, Ralf Wieland, presented the tribute.
In November 2015, the Jewish Museum Berlin and the circle of friends of the museum jointly awarded W. Michael Blumenthal the Prize for Understanding and Tolerance. In his laudatory speech the Federal German President Joachim Gauck acknowledged Blumenthal’s merits.
W. Michael Blumenthal has several honorary doctorates including one from Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion, New York, and one from the Hochschule für Jüdische Studien, Heidelberg. Furthermore, he is a member of the Advisory Board of the American Jewish Committee (Berlin) and of the International Rescue Committee (New York). He continues to serve on the Board of Trustees of the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe Foundation (Berlin), is a member of the Council of Foreign Relations (New York) and the Century Club.
W. Michael Blumenthal lives with his wife Barbara (née Bennett) in Princeton, New Jersey. They have one son together and he has three daughters from a former marriage. His memoirs entitled "In achtzig Jahren um die Welt. Mein Leben" (Around the World in Eight Years. My Life) was published by Propyläen Publishers in October 2010. In October 2011, a series of interviews with the Deutschlandfunk journalist David Dambitsch about his life’s work were published by Membran Music Ltd. in the talking book "Auf den Einzelnen kommt es an" (It’s the individual that counts).