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Catastrophe. Reading Historical Photos

Digital Workshop

How did two Jewish photographers view the year 1935? The workshop “Reading Historical Photos” will explore this question. Most photographs taken in Germany between 1933 and 1945 were taken by perpetrators and from perpetrators' perspectives. In this workshop we will focus on the photographs and perspectives of the photographers Fritz Werner Fürstenberg and Herbert Sonnenfeld.

By appointment



Fritz Werner Fürstenberg documented anti-Jewish signs in villages and towns while Herbert Sonnenfeld photographed music and theater performances of the Jewish Cultural Association, Jewish sporting events, and Jewish school life. Thus they both documented Jewish life during this period, but both perspectives react very differently to the situation of exclusion in 1935.

Gruppe von Jugendlichen musiziert

Herbert Sonnenfeld, boys and girls make music in the hachshara camp Schniebinchen near Sommerfeld, ca. 1938; Jewish Museum Berlin.

The participants will explore how they themselves take photographs and document their everyday life. This forms the basis for the next step, in which the participants examine historical photos using the basics of photo analysis. Historical photographs are often perceived as “objective images” of a historical situation. This workshop will address the pitfalls of a cursory and contextless reading of photographs. We will take a second look at photographs by considering contextual information. Participantsʼ photo-analytical skills will be strengthened practicing comparative seeing.


  • The contact person is sent a link in advance to the video conference platform Zoom.
  • Workshop introduction by the guide via video stream.
  • Small group work on the photographs by Werner Fürstenberg and Herbert Sonnenfeld. The guide is available to answer questions.
  • The guide chairs the discussion and creates a summary of the content via video stream.

For more information on the technical requirements, see Programs for Schools.

Information for school groups

Curriculum Framework

We have adapted this offer to the following modules of the Berlin and Brandenburg curriculum framework for the subjects history and ethics in grades 9 to 13:


  • 3.4 Basic modules 9/10 grade: Democracy and Dictatorship
  • 3rd semester (ge-3/GE-3): The Modern World and its Crises: Democracy and Dictatorship: The Failure of the First German Democracy – Nazi Tyranny


  • 3.5 What should I do? – Actions and Morals: Good and Evil

In order to tailor this offer to your group, we need information about the learning context (type of school, subject, and teaching topic) as well as the group size and the school’s technical equipment at the time of booking. This workshop’s content and methods are adapted to the learning level of the curriculum framework. The group requires no previous knowledge.

Where, when, what?

  • Cost per group 120 € for adults
    80 € for adults reduced rate
    50 € für School groups

    Number of participants up to 15

    RegistrationT +49 (0)30 259 93 305 (Mon–Fri, 10 am–4 pm)
    For groups we offer workshops on your desired date. Please contact us 4-6 weeks before your desired date for this service.

    Please note This workshop is suitable for grades 9 to 13 as well as for adults.

    Languages We offer this workshop in German and English.

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