Sunday, April 8, 2012

Exhibitions: German Jewish Museums Focus on Eastern European Jews in Germany Before and After the Shoah

Entrance to the Kempler pastryshop and Krakow Café, Grenadierstraße, Berlin 1926
© JMB, Schenkung von Hillel Kempler

D H. Lewin bookshop, Grenadierstraße 28, Berlin, ca. 1930 © bpk

Looking into Schendelgasse, Herbert Sonnenfeld, Berlin, ca 1935-1938
© JMB, purchase funds from the German Lottery Foundation Berlin

Sale of dry goods in Grenadierstraße , Frederick Seidenstücker, Berlin, 1932 © bpk

Exhibitions: German Jewish Museums Focus on Eastern European Jews in Germany Before and After the Shoah

Two exhibitions at German Jewish museums focus on the history and legacy of Eastern European Jewish immigrants to Germany before and after the Shoah. At the Berlin Jewish Museum the exhibition Berlin Transit traces the lives, settlement patterns and cultural expressions of Jewish migrants from Eastern Europe in the 1920s, especially those poorer Jews who settled in the neighborhood of Scheunenviertel, near Alexanderplatz, others in middle-class Charlottenburg.The exhibtion includes photos form the old neighborhoods as well as objects from the time, but it also includes works of fine art by some of the best Jewish artists of the interwar period, including Issachar Ber Ryback and Leonid Paternak. A cycle of pogrom images by Ryback is on display in Berlin for the first time since 1924. The imagery in these works will remind viewers of similar scenes in Marc Chagall's crucifixion series of the later 1920s. Rybacks' avant-garde watercolors join in dialogue with Leonid Pasternak's paintings and Naum Gabo's sculptures.

Meanwhile, an exhibition at the Munich Jewish Museum the exhibition Jews 45/90 From Here and There - Survivors from Eastern Europe examines the fate of Eastern European Holocaust survivors who settled in Germany after 1945. The Munich exhibitions examine the lives of DPs in the Munich area after the World War II, when Germany became home for tens of thousands of Eastern European survivors. This exhibit is purported to be the most comprehensive presentation to date about the everyday life, history and culture of Jewish Displaced Persons. The exhibit especially focuses on the stories of individuals, and also the varied living conditions of DPs. While some DPs remained in Germany and until the recent large influx of Russian Jews constituted the majority of Germany's post-war Jewish community, most emigrated again to Israel, the United States and other countries.

Berlin Transit: Jewish Migrants from Eastern Europe in the 1920s at the Jewish Museum Berlin

Through July 15, 2012

As a hub connecting East and West, Berlin was a place of refuge and a way station for tens of thousands of Jews from Eastern Europe starting in the late nineteenth century, and particularly after the First World War. Most of them were fleeing westwards, away from the war, revolution and pogroms of the former Russian Empire and the Habsburg Monarchy.

With its multilingualism and complex internal networks, the community of Eastern European immigrants brought about a heyday of Jewish culture in Berlin. Many of the poor Jewish immigrants lived in the Scheunenviertel area near Alexanderplatz, others in middle-class Charlottenburg, a district of the city referred to as "Charlottengrad" on account of the high proportion of Russians who lived there.

This cultural-historical exhibition focuses on the diverse worlds of Eastern European Jews in Berlin of the Weimar Republic, and presents a wealth of unknown materials: literary and autobiographic texts can be heard in their original languages (Russian, Yiddish, Hebrew and German), largely unknown photographs of the Scheunenviertel are subject to critical analysis and newly interpreted.
After the  Pogrom, series by Issachar Ber Ryback, drawing, Kiev/ Moskow, 1918/1920
© Mishkan LeOmanut, Museum of Art Ein Harod, Israel

Birds in Yiddish children's book, Leib Kwitko and Issachar Ber Ryback, Schwellen Verlag, Berlin, 1922
© Gross Family Collection, Tel Aviv

 Die Berlinerin, Issachar Ber Ryback, Kiev and Berlin, 1919/1921-1924, oil on canvas
© Bat Yam Municipality, Israel

Max Liebermann opened an exhibition at the Berlin Academy of Arts, Leonid O. Pasternak, Berlin, 1930, oil on canvas © Jerusalem, The Israel Museum

The exhibition was developed in cooperation with the research project "Charlottengrad and Scheunenviertel: Jewish Immigrants from Eastern Europe in Berlin in the 1920s and 1930s" at the Eastern Europe Institute of the Free University of Berlin.

At the end of the exhibition visitors are invited to explore urban space for traces of the largely forgotten places that reflect the immigration of Eastern European Jews to Berlin.

A catalog of the exhibition (in German) is available

Jews 45/90: From Here and There - Survivors from Eastern Europe

November 30th, 2011 through June 17th, 2012
Divided into nine different themed displays, the lives of DPs are described from their liberation until their emigration to Israel or other countries. It is not a straightforward story that is told. Depending on the occupation policies of the Allied Forces, the relief organizations, and international political developments, Jewish refugees did not know how long and under what conditions they had to carry on living in DP camps. Visitors therefore make their way through a maze - with a view of the next displays always barred. Many of the exhibits may seem at first glance to be everyday objects of little value. Their significance unfolds through the stories and memories that the lenders associate with them.

On the second exhibition level visitors are led into the Föhrenwald DP camp, now the Waldram district of Wolfratshausen, that existed from 1945-1957, longer than all other DP camps in Germany. Insights into the various aspects of camp life and the stories of individual families open up between the silhouettes of the characterstic Föhrenwald estate houses.

The richly illustrated exhibition catalog From Here and There Survivors from Eastern Europe provides further information on the DP era and on the exhibited objects. In the essay section, the children of former Displaced Persons such as the authors Lily Brett and Savyon Liebrecht, reflect their own family histories inspired by the objects in the exhibition.

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