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Unusual Objects from Our Core Exhibition Tell Stories of Jewish Life

For Otto Freundlich, art was closely intertwined with the utopian vision of a new society::

“I fight for the liberation of people and things from the habits of ownership, and against everything that confines them and doesn’t reflect their true nature.”

Abstract painting in blue, black and yellow tones

Composition, Otto Freundlich (1878–1943), 1938, tempera on cardboard; Jewish Museum Berlin, accession 1999/179/0, photo: Jens Ziehe

Otto Freundlich’s works rouse viewers from their torpor. An active gaze is needed to set the “composition” in motion: to make it rise and fall as it emerges from triangular forms and contrasting colors. As our gaze shifts, the light and dark colors—white, yellow, brown, and black—illustrate the forces that are meant to shape the thoughts and actions of free people.

During the Nazi era, Freundlich’s art was branded “degenerate” and removed from German museums. The artist was deported to the Sobibor concentration camp, where he was murdered.

Find out more about this object in the digital view into our holdings.

Core Exhibition: 13 Objects – 13 Stories (13)

13 Objects – 13 Stories

A Torah shield, a sculpture, a cushion: 13 unusual objects tell 13 stories of Jewish life. One of the tours of the JMB app leads right through the exhibition to eye-catchers of all kinds, some small, some big. What would a museum be without its many objects, each rich in meaning? You can get a sneak peek of the objects here on our website.

L’amitié au coeur (Friendship of the Heart)

by Étienne-Maurice Falconet (1716–1791), Paris, 1765, marble

Finds from the Memmels­dorf Genizah

Memmelsdorf (find site), ca. 1725–1830, paper, ink, fabric, leather, porcelain

Torah Shield

donated by Isaak Jakob Gans (1723–1798), Hamburg, 1760–1765, silver

Shevirat ha-Kelim (Breaking of the Vessels)

Anselm Kiefer, 1990–2019, lead, iron, glass, copper wire, charcoal, Aquatec

Manheimer Family Portrait

by Julius Moser (1805–1879), Berlin, 1850, oil on canvas

Puppet Show

King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba, Käte Baer-Freyer (1885–1988), Berlin, ca. 1924, plywood, metals

Decorated Cushion

“ISRAELI, JEW, and now SEVERELY DISABLED ...,” Daniel Josefsohn (1961–2016), Berlin, 2014/15, textile

Silver Formerly Owned by Jews

Provenance: up to 1939 unknown Jewish owners, 1939 Hamburg Tax Authority

Going-away Present

Bruno Heidenheim, Album to bid farewell to Margot (1913–2010) and Ernst (1898–1971) Rosenthal, Chemnitz, 1936

Hand Washbasin

Manufacturer: S. & D. Loewenthal, Frankfurt am Main, 1895/96, silver

No Longer in the Country

Unclaimed membership cards for the Jewish community Frankfurt am Main, 1949


by Otto Freundlich (1878–1943), 1938, tempera on cardboard

Yellow Star

of the Lehmann family, Berlin, 1941–1945