Saving a Cat

Everyday Absurdities at the Museum

Sometimes even a museum’s normal workday provides surprises. About a week ago I found in my postbox a letter from the provincial capital of Stuttgart, specifically, from its office for public order.

A cat in the grass next to a fence

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This work by Iris Blochel-Dittrich is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Information about fines and tickets occasionally lands on my desk, since I am in charge of a team that travels around Germany in our museum bus doing mobile educational work at schools. In the struggle against ignorance and anti-Semitism, speed is of the essence. So I flipped through to the second page to ascertain how much we owed this time: € 104,80. For animal custody and veterinary services?! This is no normal parking ticket.

I turned back to the first page and read the letter from top to bottom: “Saving Ms. K’s cat.” Did my colleagues run over a cat, or did they find one and take it to the animal shelter? I puzzled on. Eventually I understood that Ms. K had died and her cat had been taken to the city veterinary emergency room. Since the Jewish Museum Berlin was a part-inheritor of Ms. K’s estate, we were liable for a share of the resulting costs. Ms. K was a benefactor of the museum and in her bequest was – among other things – responsibility for her cat. I had unjustly suspected my team of speeding.

I opened the next letter: a fine from the Hanseatic city of Rostock for driving 8 km/hour over the speed limit. Well, then.

Ariane Kwasigroch, Education

PS: The rescued cat that belonged to Ms. K is doing well, by the way. After a week she was picked up from the emergency vet by her caretaker.

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