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Carl Melchior

Jewish Champion of European Peace

Group picture of the German peace delegation at Versailles around a table

Carl Melchior (far right) as part of the German peace delegation at Versailles, January 1919; German Federal Archives, Image 146-1971-037-34, photo: Scherl, August

Within the framework of this winter’s theme, “100 Years of Revolution—Berlin 1918/19,” the Jewish Museum Berlin reflected on the life of Carl Melchior, a long-overlooked Jewish champion of peace in Europe.

In November 1918, peace was much desired, and not just among revolutionaries. But how could such a peace be created and ensured after a years-long maelstrom of all-consuming violence, in the face of millions of victims of the First World War?

past exhibition

Map with all buildings that belong to the Jewish Museum Berlin. The W. M. Blumenthal Academy is marked in green


W. M. Blumenthal Academy
Fromet-und-Moses-Mendelssohn-Platz 1, 10969 Berlin Postal address: Lindenstraße 9-14, 10969 Berlin

As chairman of the Financial Committee of the German Armistice Delegation and chief delegate at negotiations with the Allied forces, Carl Melchior sought just such a solution—and in doing so, he “upheld dignity of defeat,” as his counterpart John Maynard Keynes put it.

Melchior came from a longstanding family of Altona rabbis, and was the first copartner of the Hamburger banking company M. M. Warburg & Co. not to come from the founding family. In 1918, he was a cofounder of the German Democratic Party. After the disappointment of Versailles, he travelled ceaselessly, advocating fair conditions for reparations and a settlement with France and Great Britain. In 1926, he became the German representative to the League of Nations. In early 1933, together with Leo Baeck, he engaged for the concerns of Jews in Germany, becoming a cofounder of the Central Committee of the German Jews for Relief and Reconstruction. He died on 30 December 1933—of overwork.

In cooperation with the Warburg Archive Foundation, supported by the Warburg Melchior Olearus Foundation.

Black and white photo of two people in the entryway of a house with flowers, a statue, and a wicker chair in the background

Carl Joseph Melchior und his niece Lilly Reberts, née Melchior, Berlin around 1930; Jewish Museum Berlin, Inv. No. 2004/245/5, gift from Marianne Breslauer, Renate Schäffer, Ruth Fröland, Leonore Forsgen. Further information about this photo can be found in our online collections (in German)

Exhibition Information at a Glance

  • When

    18 Jan to 30 Jun 2019

  • Entry fee

    Free of Charge

  • Where

    W. M. Blumenthal Academy, Foyer
    Fromet-und-Moses-Mendelssohn-Platz 1, 10969 Berlin
    See Location on Map

  • Opening hours W. Michael Blumenthal Academy

    Monday and Wednesday: 10 am to 7 pm
    Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday: 10 am to 6 pm

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