Silver jewelry dishes, pitchers, lamps, soup ladles—from magnificent silverware to simple everyday utensils: These all once belonged to Jewish families in Hamburg.
As part of the bureaucratic process of persecution and dispossession throughout all of the German Reich, an ordinance passed in February 1939 that all “silver owned by non-Aryans” had to be handed in. Twenty tons of silver were confiscated in Hamburg alone. Most of it was melted down and a small portion ended up in public collections.
Silke Reuther works at the Museum for Arts and Crafts in Hamburg and is researching provenance in the silverware collection.
“Well, no one wants or wanted to deal with the silverware. You can see that in the simple fact that more than 3000 objects have been locked away in storage. First of all it’s a huge collection and one that we’re working through right now. What we did first was we got it all out of storage and displayed it. It was just very moving to see how much people – visitors and colleagues – were interested in tackling this subject again. And we’re now planning to archive the silver collection digitally as well, in order to make it available online, because I think that it should still be possible to return things even now. That’s something we think is important. It will never be a normal collection: it can be exhibited, but the story has to be told as well.”
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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
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
King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba, Käte Baer-Freyer (1885–1988), Berlin, ca. 1924, plywood, metals
“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
Bruno Heidenheim, Album to bid farewell to Margot (1913–2010) and Ernst (1898–1971) Rosenthal, Chemnitz, 1936
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
of the Lehmann family, Berlin, 1941–1945
Jewish Life in Germany: Past and Present
More about our core exhibition
since Aug 2020
Digital presentation of our archive collections on different topics, video projects, and more
At a Glance…
The Jewish Museum Berlin Audio Guide
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