A Symbol of Transition

Object Day Dresden: Vera Primakova

“Show us your story!“ – Beginning last year, the Jewish participants in the Object Days project have followed this invitation by recounting their migration stories.

A woman in a thick winter jacket wears a huge plaid bag.

Vera Primakova, born in 1949 in Troitsk, Chelyabinsk Oblast, USSR, now Russia.
Living in Germany since 1998.
Lecturer in playwriting.
Jewish Museum Berlin, photo: Stephan Pramme

A number of reasons led us to emigrate to Germany. One of them was financial: I earned good money on paper, but I never saw it because the money got stuck somewhere and wasn’t disbursed. But the most important reason was the incredibly high crime rate. The fear that it was so easy to be stopped, robbed, raped, or kidnapped; the fear for our daughter. Also, the antisemitism was always there. For example, I wasn’t admitted to a doctoral program because my nationality was listed as “Jewish” on section 5 of my ID. Alongside all those things, the idea of starting afresh in Germany was exciting!

I keep this bag as a kind of symbol for the transition to another world – we were only allowed to take one bag per person of this size. Now it’s been in the basement for almost 20 years! The paradox is that we didn’t use any of what we’d brought in this bag. The silverware and cooking pots that we transported in there – we could get them by the hundreds in the immigrants’ home. They put them outside our window in the very same type of bags! And our Russian clothing didn’t match what people wore in Germany… That was part of the paradox of our lives here. In Germany, I grew much closer to my Jewish roots. Another paradox. In general, life here is full of paradoxes. But that’s true for Jews all over the world.