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 Judaic studies of our time.
Born in 1943 in Hückeswagen, Peter Schäfer studied theology, philosophy, and Judaic studies in Bonn, Jerusalem, and Freiburg. He received his doctorate in Judaic studies in 1968 and completed his habilitation at the University of Frankfurt/Main in 1973. Subsequently, he taught at the Universities of Tübingen and Cologne as well as at the Free University of Berlin. In 1998, he took on the prestigious Ronald O. Perelman Chair at Princeton University, where he headed the Judaic studies syllabus from 2005 to 2013.
Peter Schäfer has received many awards for his work including the Leibniz Prize in 1994, the most important research prize in Germany. In 2006, he was honored with the prestigious Mellon Award – the highest prize awarded to humanities scholars in the United States – for his efforts towards the reestablishment of Judaic studies in Germany. He was awarded the Leopold Lucas Prize by the University of Tübingen in 2014. 2015, he received the "Reuchlinpreis," awarded by the city of Pforzheim as proposed by the Heidelberg Academy of Sciences.
Peter Schäfer holds honorary doctorates from the Universities of Utrecht and Tel Aviv. He was a visiting professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Yale University, and at the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, and a Fellow at the "Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin" (2007-08). Since 1987, he has been Corresponding Fellow of the British Academy, since 1997 Foreign Member of the American Philosophical Society, since 2002-2003 full member of the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences, and since 2013 Honorary Member of the German Association of Jewish Studies.
Peter Schäfer has published numerous books and scholarly articles, has translated and published fundamental texts of the Jewish tradition, and is associate editor of "Jewish Studies Quarterly."
He now lives in Berlin again with his wife Barbara Schäfer, with whom he has two daughters and a son.
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 emigrated 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, and May 2014 he received the "Estrongo Nachama Prize for Tolerance and Civil Courage." 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).