Jewish Museum in Berlin

Saturday, 8 November 2014 - 01:00 pm (CET/MEZ) Berlin | Author/Destination:
Category/Kategorie: Berlin, Museums, Exhibitions
Reading Time:  6 minutes

Kollegienhaus, the baroque part of the Jewish Museum © flickr.com - Jess & Peter/cc-by-2.0

Kollegienhaus, the baroque part of the Jewish Museum © flickr.com – Jess & Peter/cc-by-2.0

The Jewish Museum Berlin (Jüdisches Museum Berlin) is one of the largest Jewish Museums in Europe. In two buildings, one of which is a new addition specifically built for the museum by architect Daniel Libeskind, two millennia of German Jewish history are on display in the permanent exhibition as well as in various changing exhibitions. German-Jewish history is documented in the collections, the library and the archive, in the computer terminals at the museum’s Rafael Roth Learning Center, and is reflected in the museum’s program of events. The museum opened to the public in 2001.

In 1988, the Berlin government announced an anonymous competition for the new museum’s design. A year later, Daniel Libeskind’s design was chosen by the committee for what was then planned as a “Jewish Department” for the Berlin Museum. While other entrants proposed cool, neutral spaces, Libeskind offered a radical, zigzag design, which earned the nickname ‘Blitz’. Construction on the new extension to the Berlin Museum began in November 1992. The empty museum was completed in 1999 and attracted over 350,000 people before it was filled and opened on September 9, 2001. The museum operated as a Public Foundation, owned by the Federal Government. From 2001 to 2011 7.5 million visitors visited the museum. With 722,000 visitors in 2011, it was among the most visited museums in Berlin.

Garden view © Konstantindegeer/cc-by-3.0 Garden of Exile © Andi oisn/cc-by-sa-3.0 The museum's 10-year anniversary © Assenmacher/cc-by-sa-3.0 Glass Courtyard © Stefan Kemmerling/cc-by-sa-3.0 Holocaust Tower © Stefan-Xp/cc-by-sa-3.0 Kollegienhaus, the baroque part of the Jewish Museum © flickr.com - Jess & Peter/cc-by-2.0
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Kollegienhaus, the baroque part of the Jewish Museum © flickr.com - Jess & Peter/cc-by-2.0
“Two Millennia of German Jewish History” presents Germany through the eyes of the Jewish minority. The exhibition begins with displays on medieval settlements along the Rhine, in particular in Speyer, Worms and Mayence. The Baroque period is regarded through the lens of Glickl bas Judah Leib (1646–1724, also known as Glückl von Hameln), who left a diary detailing her life as a Jewish business woman in Hamburg. The intellectual and personal legacies of philosopher Moses Mendelssohn (1729–1786) are next; both figures are flanked by depictions of Jews in court and country. The Age of Emancipation in the nineteenth century is represented as a time of optimism, achievement and prosperity, though setbacks and disappointments are displayed as well. German-Jewish soldiers fighting for their country in World War I stand at the beginning of the twentieth century. In the section on National Socialism, emphasis is placed on the ways in which Jews reacted to the increasing discrimination against them, such as founding Jewish schools and social services. After the Shoah, 250 000 survivors waited in “Displaced Persons” camps for the possibility to emigrate. At the same time, small Jewish communities in West and East were forming. The exhibition concludes with the migration to Germany of 200 000 Jews from the former Soviet Union, opening a new, yet-unwritten chapter of Jewish life in Germany.

The W. Michael Blumenthal Academy of the Jewish Museum Berlin was opened in 2012 to create a place of research and discussion that goes beyond Jewish history and present, expanding the museum’s spectrum to include the themes of migration and diversity. Its aim is to serve as a “platform for analysis and discussion about Germany as an immigration destination and the emerging pluralistic society.” Given the misunderstandings of the recent past about the museum’s tasks, perhaps a change of name to “Museum of the History of Jews and Jewish Life in Germany” would be a way to end the controversy and quarrels. Otherwise, the museum threatens to degenerate into a playground of political, propagandistic, foreign lobby groups: Exhibition Welcome to Jerusalem, The New York Times, 1 May 2009: In Berlin, Teaching Germany’s Jewish History, i24 News, 9 December 2018: Merkel receives Israeli request to cut funding to Berlin’s Jewish Museum: report, Haaretz, 9 December 2018: Israel Demanded Germany Cut Funding to Jewish Museum in Berlin, Report Says, The New York Times, 23 December 2018: Jerusalem Criticizes Berlin’s Jewish Museum for ‘Anti-Israel Activity’, Jerusalem Post, 8 June 2019: ‘Anti-Jewish’ Museum in Berlin under fire for supporting BDS, Jerusalem Post, 11 June 2019: German Jews say Jewish Museum “out of control” due to BDS support, Times of Israel, 12 June 2019: Berlin Jewish Museum takes heat for tweeting link to pro-BDS story, Jerusalem Post, 14 June 2019: German minister ignors antisemitism at ‘anti-Israel’ Jewish Museum, Times of Israel, 14 June 2019: Director of Berlin’s Jewish Museum quits after tweet linked to pro-BDS story, Haaretz, 16 June 2019: Why neo-Nazis Love the BDS Movement So Much, Jerusalem Post, 19 June 2019: How the Berlin Jewish Museum became a political lightning rod, Jerusalem Post, 12 September 2019: 500 intellectuals urge Berlin Jewish Museum to end BDS, Jerusalem Post, 21 November 2019: ‘Anti-Jewish’ Museum gives award to anti-Israel German FM, DW, 27 November 2019: Jewish Museum Berlin appoints Hetty Berg as new director, Jewish Heritage Europe, 27 November 2019: Germany: Hetty Berg Named New Director of the Jewish Museum in Berlin, Jerusalem Post, 27 August 2020: Berlin Jewish museum director on Jewish life in Germany, beyond BDS.

Read more on Jewish Museum, berlin.de – Jewish Museum, The New York Times, 1 May 2009: In Berlin, Teaching Germany’s Jewish History and Wikipedia Jewish Museum (Smart Traveler App by U.S. Department of State - Weather report by weather.com - Global Passport Power Rank - Travel Risk Map - Democracy Index - GDP according to IMF, UN, and World Bank - Global Competitiveness Report - Corruption Perceptions Index - Press Freedom Index - World Justice Project - Rule of Law Index - UN Human Development Index - Global Peace Index - Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Index). Photos by Wikimedia Commons. If you have a suggestion, critique, review or comment to this blog entry, we are looking forward to receive your e-mail at comment@wingsch.net. Please name the headline of the blog post to which your e-mail refers to in the subject line.




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