Beit Theresienstadt online lecture:
The Dressmakers of Auschwitz by Lucy Adlington
Sunday, 18.02.24, 20:00 (israel time)
A powerful chronicle of the women who used their sewing skills to survive the Holocaust, stitching beautiful clothes at an extraordinary fashion workshop created within one of the most notorious WWII death camps.
At the height of the Holocaust twenty-five young inmates of the infamous Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp—mainly Jewish women and girls—were selected to design, cut, and sew beautiful fashions for elite Nazi women in a dedicated salon. It was work that they hoped would spare them from the gas chambers.
This fashion workshop—called the Upper Tailoring Studio—was established by Hedwig Höss, the camp commandant’s wife, and patronized by the wives of SS guards and officers. Here, the dressmakers produced high-quality garments for SS social functions in Auschwitz, and for ladies from Nazi Berlin’s upper crust.
Drawing on diverse sources—including interviews with the last surviving seamstress—The Dressmakers of Auschwitz follows the fates of these brave women. Their bonds of family and friendship not only helped them endure persecution, but also to play their part in camp resistance. Weaving the dressmakers’ remarkable experiences within the context of Nazi policies for plunder and exploitation, historian Lucy Adlington exposes the greed, cruelty, and hypocrisy of the Third Reich and offers a fresh look at a little-known chapter of World War II and the Holocaust.
Link to the lecture:
New online lectures series:
“Nazi Looted Restitution: Art and the Nazi Regime” By Ph.D. Shir Kochavi
The Art World during the Nazi Regime
Sunday, 25.02.24, 20:00 (israel time)
Art had a significant role under the Nazi regime. Hitler, who studied art, planned to bring together the world’s largest art collection to his birth city of Linz, Austria. For that purpose he worked with European art dealers from Germany, Austria and in the occupied countries. Herman Goering, head of the Nazi air force was also an avid art collector who took advantage of the Nazi confiscation policy to expand his collection. In addition, Nazi officers, such as Alfred Rosenberg, set up special task forces focused on looting and confiscating works of art and cultural property. This led to the greatest art theft in history, estimated in over 5 million items.
In this presentation, we will discuss the process of Nazi looting and confiscation, since the rise of the Nazi regime to power in January 1933 and the setting up of the propaganda office led by Joseph Goebbels. I will also bring examples of the Aryanization and confiscation policies followed in the occupied countries, especially in France and the Netherlands.
Link to the lecture:
The “Degenerate Art” during the Nazi Regime
Sunday, 03.03.24, 20:00 (israel time)
In the summer of 1937, the infamous “Degenerate Art” exhibition opened in Munich. It was set up by the Propaganda office of the Third Reich and displayed over 700 works of art that had been removed from German Museum collections since 1933. This became one of the most visited exhibitions in history when it reached over 2 million visitors. In parallel, “The Great German Art” exhibition also opened in Munich that summer, showcasing artists supported by the Nazi regime. The exhibition opening was accompanied by a pageant celebrating 2000 years of German art.
In this presentation we will discuss the artistic styles exhibited in both exhibitions and their popularity within Germany and beyond. I will bring examples of the outcome of these displays and consider what happened to these works of art once the exhibitions closed and where we can find them today.
Link to the lecture:
The Return of Nazi-Looted Art
Sunday, 10.03.24, 20:00 (israel time)
The process of restitution of Nazi-looted art, especially those confiscated from Jewish collections during the Second World War is complex and has risen to public attention since the early 2000s. One of the most well known cases is the case of the Gustav Klimt painting “The Woman in Gold” (Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer). This artwork became a symbol for the artistic wealth that Jewish families had at the time and for the difficulty for the heirs of these families to restitute their prewar cultural property.
While many restitution cases are still taking place today, in this talk we will also discuss the incredible 2012 discovery of the Gurlitt collection. Cornelius Gurlitt was the son of the art dealer Hildebrand Gurlitt, who was working with the Nazi regime in their effort to remove “degenerate” art from Germany and sell it to buyers around the world. Over 1000 original works of art that were unseen since the end of the Second World War were found in his collection. Throughout this presentation I will bring a couple of examples of important art restitution cases and discuss the outcome of the Gurlitt trove since its 2012 discovery.
Link to the lecture:
About the author:
Shir Kochavi is an art historian with extensive expertise in curatorial work and provenance research. She is currently working on a post-doc at the Bar Ilan University where she researches the post-Holocaust period within the framework of the cultural world and commemoration. Her past positions include curatorial work at the University of California Berkeley, research work for the Company for Location and Restitution of Holocaust Victims’ as well as at auction houses and galleries.
Her research interests include 20th Century Jewish history, women’s involvement in post-war narratives, Jewish ritual objects, Jewish museums, and the history of collecting.
Looking for my family through time by Ariana Neumann
Sunday, 17.03.24, 20:00 (israel time)
In 1941, the first Neumann family member was taken by the Nazis, arrested in German-occupied Czechoslovakia for bathing in a stretch of river forbidden to Jews. He was transported to Auschwitz. Eighteen days later his prisoner number was entered into the morgue book.
Of thirty-four Neumann family members, twenty-five were murdered by the Nazis. One of the survivors was Hans Neumann, who, to escape the German death net, traveled to Berlin and hid in plain sight under the Gestapo’s eyes. What Hans experienced was so unspeakable that, when he built an industrial empire in Venezuela, he couldn’t bring himself to talk about it. All his daughter Ariana knew was that something terrible had happened.
When Hans died, he left Ariana a small box filled with letters, diary entries, and other memorabilia. Ten years later Ariana finally summoned the courage to have the letters translated, and she began reading. What she discovered launched her on a worldwide search that would deliver indelible portraits of a family loving, finding meaning, and trying to survive amid the worst that can be imagined.
When Time Stopped is an unputdownable detective story and an epic family memoir, spanning nearly ninety years and crossing oceans. Neumann brings each relative to vivid life. In uncovering her father’s story after all these years, she discovers nuance and depth to her own history and liberates poignant and thought-provoking truths about the threads of humanity that connect us all.
Link to the lecture:
A special online event commemorating the last transport from Theresienstadt, the transport to Switzerland
Sunday, February 4th 8:00 PM
Participating survivors: Achim and Ester Bagainski, Zvi Cohen
On the morning of February 5, 1945, at the train platform of Ghetto Theresienstadt, 1,200 excited men, women and children boarded the carriages of a fancy passenger train, a train very different from what they were used to seeing in recent months.
The train set off and arrived in Switzerland the next day. When the train arrived in St. Gallen, they were greeted by members of the ‘Rescue Committee’ that Swiss Jews had established to help Jewish refugees and bring them from the concentration camps to Switzerland. The rescue operation was made possible through the mediation of the former president, Jean-Marie Moussi, who, despite his views in the past, was horrified by the results of the Germans’ actions and tried to save what was possible.
Beit Theresienstadt is an active project partner to a commemoration project initiated by St. Gallen University of Teacher Education and the Mamlock Foundation aimed at preserving the memories of the survivors of this rescue mission.
Link to the event: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/82720887835