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Opening of the exhibition “My Verses Are like Dynamite”

Curt Bloch’s Het Onderwater Cabaret

Press Release, Thu 8 Feb 2024

On 9 February 2024, the Jewish Museum Berlin (JMB) will open the exhibition “My Verses Are like Dynamite” Curt Bloch’s Het Onderwater Cabaret. Under threat from Nazi antisemitism, the young Jewish lawyer Curt Bloch (1908–1975) fled Dortmund for the Netherlands in 1933. He went into hiding there in 1942 and emigrated to the United States after the war. In his hiding place, from August 1943 to April 1945 Bloch produced a magazine with the telling title Het Onderwater Cabaret – “The Underwater Cabaret.” The JMB is now presenting Bloch’s work to the public for the first time.


Dr. Margret Karsch
Press Officer
T +49 (0)30 259 93 419


Jewish Museum Berlin Foundation
Lindenstraße 9–14
10969 Berlin

A Unique Testimony to Artistic Resistance in hHiding

Week by week, Curt Bloch created small-format booklets with artfully designed covers, containing a total of 483 handwritten poems in German and Dutch. His cover designs and poems referred to political and military events, addressing his situation in hiding and the fate of his family. He unmasked Nazi propaganda with caustic irony and sardonic wit, yet always fully aware that the National Socialists were committing mass murder against the European Jews. 
Hetty Berg, Director of the JMB, is very pleased to present Het Onderwater Cabaret at the JMB after extensive restoration work: “Bloch’s work is an act of artistic resistance – against the Nazi regime and its Dutch collaborators. The exhibition shows all ninety-five issues in the original and reconstructs the context and process of their making. In this way, it adds a further dimension to the images of life and survival in hiding that predominate in today’s German society: the dimension of Curt Bloch’s experience, which includes the humor and creativity he was able to bring to bear against Nazi brutality.”

Along with other works that Bloch wrote “underwater” – that is, while in hiding – the exhibition also introduces his companions and helpers, flanked by oral history interviews. The actor Marina Frenk has specially staged a performance with Richard Gonlag and Mathias Schäfer that brings a selection of Bloch’s verses vibrantly to life in an audio production and a video projection. Frenk sings her own musical settings, accompanying herself on the piano, and performs one of the poems as a duet with Gonlag.

Curt Bloch preserved his unique legacy in his New York home for many decades. Through his daughter, Simone Bloch, it has come to the Jewish Museum Berlin, where it is now shown to the public for the first time. Simone Bloch says: “It is very moving to see how the Jewish Museum Berlin’s curators have made my father’s long-hidden work visible, what they discovered along the way, and how they’ve brought the work to life with music. I take joy that my mother can share in the experience from afar. I marvel at the resources and attention expended in restoring and preserving the work. That this is happening in Berlin speaks powerfully to my father’s strong belief that times and people can change, and that one must never give up hope or the belief that one’s opinions and perceptions matter. And that there is almost always humor to be found. Somehow. My father would appreciate the irony that now the Jewish Museum Berlin is exactly the right place on earth to present and preserve this artistic testimony.”

Exhibition dates 9 February–26 May 2024
Location Jewish Museum Berlin, Libeskind Building, ground level, Eric F. Ross Gallery
Admission free; timeslot ticket required

Special Issue of the JMB Journal

A special issue of the JMB Journal will be published to accompany the exhibition. In hiding, Curt Bloch hoped his satirical underground magazine would find a large readership after the war – the JMB Journal will now help to fulfill that wish. The issue is available in print at the museum (price: €5) and digitally at

Online Feature

An online feature on the exhibition offers in-depth, multimedia glimpses into three selected issues of Het Onderwater Cabaret. You can also find background information on Curt Bloch’s life in hiding and the readership of his magazine, and take a look behind the scenes of the museum’s work, especially the careful restoration of the ninety-five booklets.

For the latest information on the exhibition, visit

Press images are available for download with full acknowledgment at

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