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Stolen Judaica – Symposium on Provenance Research on June 18 and 19 at the Jewish Museum Berlin

Press Release – 11 June 2018

Press Release, Wed 13 Jun 2018

In Germany, from 1933 to 1945, cultural artifacts were stolen or confiscated from Jewish owners in an unprecedented manner, and often destroyed. The November Pogroms nearly eighty years ago represented a culmination, when synagogues were destroyed and valuable Jewish ceremonial objects were stolen. As a result of confiscations and forced sales, privately owned Judaica was often sold as well. After 1945, these objects surfaced in attics, at flea markets and auctions.

Today they are also in the holdings of many museum collections. For a long time, Judaica represented a neglected area of provenance research. Now the Jewish Museum Berlin and the New Synagogue Foundation Berlin – Centrum Judaicum are hosting an international “Stolen Judaica” symposium on June 18 and 19 on the research of the provenance of these objects. This will be the first time a conference is being dedicated exclusively to research on the origins of Jewish ceremonial objects in Germany and Israel.

Kontakt und Akkreditierung

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T +49 (0)30 259 93 419


Jewish Museum Berlin Foundation
Lindenstraße 9–14
10969 Berlin

"Jewish ceremonial objects that were seized from their owners during this time, as a result of persecution, can often still be found in museum depots. A network of experts from Germany and in Israel will help us to develop promising new methodological approaches to provenance research."
– Léontine Meijer-van Mensch, Program Director of the Jewish Museum Berlin.

"Stolen Judaica" Symposium with a public evening event

The symposium on June 18 at the Jewish Museum Berlin will include eight lectures, offering insight into ongoing research projects and methodological approaches to provenance research, aiming to further develop this branch of research. Experts from Israel and Germany will report on their handling of Judaica finds and present the results of their research. The symposium addresses small regional museums in particular, and collections containing objects of unknown provenance. The public evening event in the New Synagogue Foundation Berlin – Centrum Judaicum will be opened by Monika Grütters, Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media, and Israeli Ambassador Jeremy Issacharoff. The event will focus on the discourse on provenance and remembrance in Germany and Israel in the context of the respective societies and their memory culture. Four workshops on June 19 in the Jewish Museum Berlin will direct attention to specific questions and challenges involving Judaica. Using original Jewish ritual objects such as Torah ornaments, Kiddush cups, and ritual textiles, one workshop will focus on the characteristics of Judaica.

Judaica Provenance Research at the Jewish Museum Berlin

The Jewish Museum Berlin is the first institution in Germany that is systematically and proactively researching the origins of Jewish ceremonial objects. The first focal point of the project was the Zvi Sofer collection, with more than 300 objects with gaps in their provenance; so far, there have been no indications to suggest stolen Jewish property. Since May 2017 Dr. Anna-Carolin Augustin, a research associate at the Jewish Museum Berlin, has been researching the provenance of the museum’s collection, with more than 1600 Judaica objects. This two-year provenance research project is being sponsored by the German Lost Art Foundation.

Speakers at the conference will include: Michal S. Friedlander, Head of Judaica Provenance Research and Curator of Judaica and Applied Arts, Jewish Museum Berlin; Dr. Jutta Dick, Director, Foundation Moses Mendelssohn Academy, Halberstadt; Sharon Weiser-Ferguson, Curator, The Israel Museum, Jerusalem, and Sara Shor, Collection Manager, Artifacts Collection, Yad Vashem Museum, Jerusalem.

Here you can find the complete program.

Sponsored by the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media, with the support of the German Lost Art Foundation.

Lectures and Workshops on June 18 and 19 in the Jewish Museum Berlin

When June 18, starting at 10.30 am; June 19, starting at 10 am
Where Conference Room, W. Michael Blumenthal Academy
Admission Free of charge
Languages: German and English with simultaneous interpretation

Public evening event on June 18 in the New Synagogue Foundation Berlin – Centrum Judaicum

When: 6.30 pm
Where: Centrum Judaicum, Oranienburger Str. 28–30, 10117 Berlin
Admission: Free of charge

Press Accreditation:

Please confirm your attendance on or before Friday, June 15, 2018, by email ( or telephone: +49 (0)30 25 993 419. To set up interviews please contact the press office in advance.

Download the Conference Program

(Version: 7 May 2018)

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