The beginning of the end of German Jewry


< 7 SEPTEMBER 1933
13 SEPTEMBER 1933 >

11 September 1933

Postcard from Meta Abramczyk to the Steinhardt family in Tel Aviv

Six months after the painter and graphic artist Jakob Steinhardt (1887–1968), his wife, Minni, and their daughter, Josefa, hastily left Berlin, they received this postcard in Tel Aviv bringing them news from their old homeland. The sender was Meta Abramczyk (1876–1942), who had begun working as the secretary of the Berlin Secession artists‘ association in 1915 and was the group‘s girl Friday. Nicknamed "Metella," Abramczyk was friends with many of the artists, including Jakob Steinhardt, who had joined the Berlin Secession in 1918 and was appointed to its board in 1929.

The Steinhardts learned from her that the situation at the Berlin Secession had changed dramatically. "None of our old friends show up anymore," she wrote. She was now "vegetating" with the painter and etcher Paul Paeschke, the "only surviving remnant" at the association‘s office at Budapester Strasse 10 in the district of Charlottenburg. "So much has changed since your departure," she added and gave the Steinhardts news about mutual artist friends such as Eugen Spiro, Jozsef Bato, Joseph Oppenheimer, Walter Trier and Max Pechstein. Like Steinhardt, many of these artists had already fled Germany; others were making plans to do so, their livelihoods in jeopardy because of their artistic convictions or Jewish origins.

Abramczyk also lamented that the Romanisches Café, a well-known meeting place for artists not far from the association‘s office, now had a "completely different clientele." Most of the regulars had emigrated and the painter Heinrich Heuser was "just about the only one left at the abandoned table where we regularly met."

Unlike many of her artist friends, Meta Abramczyk did not manage to get out of Germany in time. In October 1941 she was deported to the Łódź Ghetto and in May 1942 she was transferred to the Chelmno extermination camp, where she died on 7 May 1942.

In British-administered Palestine Jakob Steinhardt initially gave private art lessons before being hired as a teacher at the Bezalel Academy of Art and Design. He was director of the academy from 1955 to 1957.

Franziska Bogdanov

Categorie(s): artists and writers | Berlin | emigration
Postcard from Meta Abramczyk to Jakob Steinhardt and his family in Tel Aviv, Berlin, 11 September 1933
Gift of Josefa Bar-On Steinhardt, Nahariya, Israel