"'You’ve Come to a Family of Perfumers'. The Cosmetic Companies Scherk and Dr. Albersheim"

Press Invitation to the Exhibition Opening

Press Release, 18 August 2010

"You’ve come to a family of perfumers" – this is how Fritz Scherk (1918-1995) was enthusiastically greeted by his family at his birth. He grew up amidst perfume bottles and powder compacts; the Scherk cosmetic company in Berlin flourished under his father, Ludwig. The Albersheims, who had owned a perfumery in Frankfurt since 1892, were also part of the family. Both firms survived "Aryanization," the war years, restitution, and reconstruction and were continued into the 1960s. The cabinet exhibition takes visitors on a journey through time with the Scherk and Albersheim family and company history. Alongside family history exhibits, numerous products will be on show, among them 100 on loan from a private collector.

We cordially invite you to the opening of the cabinet exhibition on 2 September.

The speakers will be:
Leonore Maier, curator, Jewish Museum Berlin
Dr. Sabine Bohle-Heintzenberg, exhibit lender and collector
Irene Scherk, daughter of the firm owner Fritz Scherk and benefactress.

We would be happy to arrange interview appointments for you with curators. Irene Scherk, the daughter of the firm owner Fritz Scherk, and the longstanding Scherk employee Regina Wenzel will also be available to answer questions.

When Opening on 2 September 2010, 11 am
Where Old Building, ground level, Auditorium
Katharina Schmidt-Narischkin
Senior Press Officer
+49 (0)30 259 93 419
+49 (0)30 259 93 400

Jewish Museum Berlin Foundation
Lindenstraße 9–14
10969 Berlin


Old Building, ground level, Auditorium

Lindenstraße 9–14, 10969 Berlin

On the Exhibition "You’ve Come to a Family of Perfumers"

Traditionally domiciled in France, the cosmetic industry also gained in importance in Germany during the German Empire. Among the successful entrepreneurs was Moritz Albersheim – who founded the Dr. Albersheim perfumery in Frankfurt in 1892 – and the former Dr. Albersheim employee Ludwig Scherk, who established his own cosmetic company in Berlin. The exhibition "You’ve Come to a Family of Perfumers" outlines the stories of these two companies connected by family ties. In seven chapters, it not only tells a part of Berlin and Frankfurt company history, but also the stories of two middle-class German-Jewish families in the 20th century – from the German Empire to Germany’s "economic miracle years."

The central figure of the exhibition is Ludwig Scherk’s son Fritz Scherk, who built up the firm again in the post-war era. His daughter, Irene Scherk, has donated her father’s bequest and historical cosmetic products from her own collection to the Jewish Museum Berlin. Photos, documents and in particular diary entries from the period between the wars by his mother, Alice Scherk, reflect a very secular-oriented family that attached little importance to religious rituals and much to moral principles.

The Heyday of the 1920s

The 1920s were the heyday of the Scherk and Dr. Albersheim firms. The Frankfurt company conquered the market with Germany’s first line of perfume and cosmetics with the same fragrance ("Khasana"). Meanwhile, Ludwig Scherk established a branch network that even stretched abroad. Facial toner and the "Mystikum" powder compact were Scherk product hits. Well-known designers such as F.H. Ehmcke were involved in the creation of cosmetic articles. The Scherk factory in Berlin was built by Fritz Höger, who also built the "Chilehaus" in Hamburg.

The success stories of many Jewish firms came to an end with the rise to power of the Nazis and the "Aryanization" in the years that followed. Ludwig Scherk was forced to sell his company to the Schering AG for a price substantially below its actual value in 1938. The Dr. Albersheim company was taken over by Dr. Korthaus, a former senior manager at the "IG Farben" concern. The change of logo and label on the exhibited products are evidence of the ruin of the Jewish family companies. Their relations emigrated to England, France, and the USA.

"Scherk is Back": Compensation and the Post-war Years

Fritz Scherk, the principal heir of the deceased firm founder, returned to Germany in 1950. He had applied for compensation from Israel and had bought the company back from Schering. He announced his fresh start in a letter to the trade: "Scherk is back." Newspaper reports, photos of the reconstruction, and compensation files tell of this time. Fritz Scherk reestablished the family-like business culture his father had begun until he sold the firm in 1969. The Scherk company events and parties – at which the boss played music and recited his own poetry - were legendary.

The exhibition was designed by the company Kaiser Matthies Communication and Exhibition Design and curated by Dr. Iris Blochel-Dittrich and Leonore Maier from the Jewish Museum Berlin.

Exhibition Dates 2 September 2010 to 31 January 2011
Where Libeskind Building, basement, Rafael Roth Learning Center
Admission with the Museum ticket (5 euros, reduced rate 2.50 euros)

Old Building, ground level, Auditorium

Lindenstraße 9–14, 10969 Berlin