The beginning of the end of German Jewry


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6 March 1933

Entry in the Steinhardt family‘s guestbook

Expressionist painter and graphic artist Jakob Steinhardt (1887–1968) is one of the most important German-Jewish artists of the twentieth century, best known for his woodcuts of biblical and Jewish subjects. He was also an important figure in Berlin‘s cultural life, a role attested to by his family‘s guestbook, which contains entries and drawings by numerous artists and writers, including Conrad Felixmüller, Paul Dessau and Eugen Spiro.

On 7 March 1933, after Jakob Steinhardt received massive threats from the SA, he hastily left Berlin and immigrated to Palestine with his family, taking this guestbook with him. The last entry before his escape is presented here.

The words "In memory of Berlin, March 1933" have been written next to a pencil drawing by an unidentified artist. The sketch shows the superimposed outlines of the heads of Otto von Bismarck, Paul von Hindenburg and Adolf Hitler. At the center of the image is a swastika.

The sketch is apparently an allusion to the claim made by the Nazis—particularly in the run-up to the 5 March elections—that Adolf Hitler stood in the tradition of these two great figures of Prussian history. On the so-called Day of Potsdam two and a half weeks later, this supposed line of tradition was staged with great fanfare in a public ceremony in which Hitler pointedly bowed before Reich President Hindenburg. For Jakob Steinhardt, who was Jewish, this gesture was an ominous symbol of the immediate threat to him and his family.

Lea Weik

Categorie(s): artists and writers | Berlin | emigration
Drawing in the Steinhardt family‘s guestbook, unknown artist, Berlin, early March 1933
Gift of Josefa Bar-On Steinhardt, Nahariya, Israel