“All for the Sake of Love”

Sexual Diversity in the Collection of the Jewish Museum

On July 28th, Christopher Street Day will take place for the 40th time in Berlin. Like every year, it will feature demonstrations for the rights of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people, this time under the slogan My body—my identity—my life! (Link to this year’s CSD political points (in German)) As ever, its attendees publicly display and celebrate sexual diversity.

The collection of the Jewish Museum includes items related to people who would possibly identify as LGBTI today, but unfortunately they aren’t very visible. “Homosexuality” is a keyword in the museum database, but it is hardly used.

Two women kissing each other

Felice Schragenheim and Elisabeth Wust on an excursion to the Havel River, just hours before Schragenheim’s arrest, Berlin, 21 August 1944; Jewish Museum Berlin, gift from Elisabeth Wust

Most of the items associated with this keyword come from the collection on Felice Schragenheim (1922–1945) and Elisabeth (Lilly) Wust (1913–2006). Erica Fischer’s 1994 book Aimée & Jaguar made their story known, and the 1999 film of the same name made it famous.

Photos and documents record their romantic relationship, including numerous love letters, some of them sealed with Felice’s kiss.

The two “marriage contracts” that the women signed with each other in 1943 are highly unusual. The 21-year-old Felice composed hers in the form of a decalogue with ten promises. The first line reads “I will always love you.”  continue reading


A New Home in Sweden

The sixth and final installment in our blog series “Memories from the Life of Walter Frankenstein”

In the black-and-white photo, the family is in a room with patterned curtains and houseplants. All four are smiling or laughing. The image is very lively.

The Frankenstein family in their apartment, Bandhagen (outside of Stockholm), around 1956–1957; Jewish Museum Berlin, gift of Leonie and Walter Frankenstein

To start from the beginning again: when I consider the path that Walter Frankenstein and his family took, I’m constantly astonished that they didn’t lose hope and always found new strength to confront the numerous changes in their lives. In 1956, the final big challenge in the lives of the four Frankensteins got underway.

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Not What They Expected

The fifth episode in our blog series “Memories from the Life of Walter Frankenstein”

Black and white photography: Leonie is sitting in the middle and laughs. Michael, who runs his tongue over the right corner of his mouth, is sitting on her lap.On the left is Peter-Uri with bright curls, also smiling broadly.

Leonie Frankenstein with her sons Peter-Uri and Michael, Hadera, 1947; Jewish Museum Berlin, gift of Leonie and Walter Frankenstein

Finally reunited after 19 months! —A summer 1947 photo of Leonie, Uri, and Michael Frankenstein makes clear how overjoyed the three were about Walter’s release. All three gaze relieved into the camera. At first, Walter moved into the one-room apartment in a public housing building in Hadera that had been allocated to Leonie and the children following their emigration to Palestine. In the mean time, Leonie had learned Hebrew and found employment at a chocolate shop. Her work had allowed her to support herself and her sons in her husband’s absence.  continue reading