Photo from the online exhibition "I no longer have to be afraid of my neighbours": the life of Ivana Beranová (Fantlová) and her family
A selection of cultural events and lectures
“Cacti have been living in the Diaspora for a long time…”: Literary reportage by Egon Erwin Kischin Mexico
On the evening of 4 June, an event was held in the Maisel Synagogue to mark the 135th anniversary of the birth of the journalist and writer Egon Erwin Kisch (1885–1948). The event was prepared by the Prague Literary House of German-Language Authors in co-operation with the Jewish Museum in Prague and focused mainly on Kisch’s reportage from Mexico. The German studies scholars Barbora Šrámková and Viera Glosíková drew attention to these texts, which deal with the topics of war, Nazism and the Shoah, and also talked about Kisch’s life and work. This event was the first to be held at the Jewish Museum since its forced closure due to the Coronavirus pandemic, which is why the large number of visitors was all the more encouraging.
Igor Guberman’s “gariki”
On the evening of of 11 June, the Maisel Synagogue hosted an event celebrating the life and work of Israeli Russian writer Igor Guberman (b. 1936). The translator Milan Dvořák discussed Guberman’s aphoristic quatrains (which the author calls gariki) and spoke about the challenge of translating them. Over the course of the evening, some of these short poems were recited by the actor Jiří Žák, and songs by two other Russian-Jewish authors – Alexander Galich and Alexander Rozenbaum – were performed by the singer Alena Hanusová.
Darkness and hope in the film The Painted Bird
The 2019/2020 season of evening events at the Maisel Synagogue came to an end on 25 June with a discussion between the philosopher and pedagogue Miroslav Petříček and the film director, screenwriter and producer Václav Marhoul. The main topic under discussion was the acclaimed and much-discussed film drama The Painted Bird with focus on the novel on which it was based and on the message and power of the film adaptation.
Sunday workshop for parents with their children: “Dubi the Teddy Bear looks for a stewardess costume”
Lola Beer Ebner (birth name Carola Zwillinger) was born in 1910 in the Moravian town of Prostějov and achieved huge success as a fashion designer in her second home, Israel. In March 1939, she and her husband Josef Beer managed to get to what was then Mandatory Palestine. As a result, unlike her other family members, she survived the war. In the centre of Tel Aviv, she soon opened a shop with quality fabrics and a tailor’s salon. In a country that had developed through the efforts of agricultural pioneers and builders, and where it was customary to wear simple and practical clothing, Loly Beer’s fashion designs attracted a lot of attention and soon brought her a large number of customers. After the founding of the State of Israel in 1948, she designed elegant uniforms for women serving in the army and for flight attendants, as well as clothes for first ladies and other important personages. She added the name Ebner to her own on marrying her second husband. In the 1960s and 70s, her fashion collection also received acclaim abroad. She ran her salon on the prestigious HaYarkon Avenue until she was 85 years old. In June, the Jewish Museum in Prague held a Sunday workshop at the Jewish cemetery hall in Brno for parents with their children in tribute to Lola Beer Ebner. The children taking part were provided with tracing paper, scissors and a multitude of brightly coloured fabrics, so that they could try their hand at fashion design under the guidance of Dubi the Teddy Bear.
Photo: team DEC and Tamara Kohutová
Summer evening at the Löw-Beer Villa
After several months of exceptional circumstances caused by the coronavirus pandemic, a special gathering was held on the evening of 17 June in the Löw-Beer villa’s garden with a pleasant, summery atmosphere. In the Celnice Gallery, we opened an exhibition of photographs by Kurt Bardoš (1914‒1945), an amateur photographer who came from a Jewish family in Brno and perished in the Dachau concentration camp. At the event, Kurt’s nieces Ruth and Susanne spoke about how their uncle’s photographs were miraculously returned to the family and what flipping through his old albums meant to them. The exhibition will be on view throughout the summer, which means that you can also take in a film at the local open-air cinema. The Brno branch of the Jewish Museum’s Department for Education and Culture is organizing a guided tour for the last day of the exhibition on 2 September.
After the exhibition preview, we followed up with an event in the villa’s garden that was prepared jointly with the Rabbi Feder Cultural and Educational Centre, entitled “We enjoy reading. What about you?” Those taking part were able to listen to readings from popular books that were brought by, among others, the actors Michal Bumbálek (Brno National Theatre) and Eva Yildizová (Goose on a String Theatre). A staged presentation of pieces from the Jewish Museum’s educational programme were presented by Táňa Klementová and Barbora Dočkalová. The authors Eva Neuschlová and Daniel Novotný read passages from their books. In addition, Hana Frejková gave a preview of her upcoming theatre show.
Photo: Team DEC and Tamara Kohutová
Other news from the museum
Archivist on a Bicycle – a book tribute to the life and work of the historian Jiří Fiedler who tragically died in 2014
The Jewish Museum in Prague has prepared a Czech translation of the English-language e-book Archivist on a Bicycle, which commemorates the life and invaluable work of the Czech historian and translator Jiří Fiedler. The e-book is now freely available for download on the Museum’s website.
Jiří Fiedler’s life came to a tragic end in 2014, when he and his wife were brutally murdered in their apartment by a man visiting under the pretext of asking for specialist advice. This tragic event was covered in the local and international media. His obituary was published, for example, in The New York Times.
Co-authored by Dušan Karpatský, Mark Talisman, Leo Pavlát and Rabbi Norman Patz, among others, the e-book Archivist on a Bicycle is a very pleasant read. Not only is it a tribute to the memory of a most interesting person with a distinct sense of humour; it is also an exploration of the circumstances under which the Jewish community operated during the period of Czechoslovak Normalization.
“At a time of destruction, Jiří Fiedler did what, under normal circumstances, specialist institutions should have devoted their time to. On account of his work, he earned the animosity of the secret police and aroused the suspicion of others. At a time when the Jewish cultural heritage in Bohemia and Moravia was treated with utter contempt, he produced a trove of work that can be drawn on by future generations of researchers in the area of Jewish topography”, said Leo Pavlát, the director of the Jewish Museum in Prague.
The original English-language version of the book was initiated by Czech-born American writer and journalist Helen Epstein, who first came into contact with Jiří Fiedler in 1990 when trying to find information about the Czech Jewish community. Over the years, they met in person many times during her research work and became friends.
Donate to the Jewish Museum
If you wish to preserve the memory of a loved one or to store your keepsakes in a safe place, then please contact us as we are the best repository for you.
The Jewish Museum in Prague is the third oldest Institution of its kind in the world – after the Jewish museums in New York and Vienna. After regaining its independence from the state in 1994 – when it was returned to the Jewish community – the Museum resumed its focus on the systematic development of its collections, library holdings, archives and documentary fonds.
Charlotte Schroetter-Radnitz-Frumi (1899-1986) Portrait of historian of art, critic and theoretic Oskara Schürera (1892-1949), 1931-32, oil on canvas, 93 x 82 cm
As a memory institution whose primary mission is to preserve, study, and disseminate the spiritual, cultural, and historical legacy of Jews in the Czech lands in a Central European context, the scope of our acquisition programme is wide-ranging. While our main focus is on the fine arts or visual and book culture (particularly on ritual objects that document the history of Jewish communities and individuals), we also collect archival documents, letters, photographs, everyday objects, a variety of personal effects and oral testimonies, which document daily Jewish life across the centuries, including the most tragic chapter in Jewish history, the Shoah.
The Museum is happy to accept offers for donations and bequests, and – in specific cases – to augment its extensive collections and fonds through purchases from private owners, either directly or from public auctions in the Czech Republic and abroad. All objects, documents, and testimonies that are included in our collections and fonds form part of a whole that is unique in the context of the world cultural heritage, and as such they are given the utmost care and are made available both to the public at large and to professionals in the field.
Frank J. Marlow's field uniform blouse (1911-1996), Great Britain, 1942-45, wool, cotton, metal buckles, buttons, machine and hand sewing, Black & Company Limited, Glasgow
Jewish Museum included in the “At Home in Prague” voucher programme
Come to Prague and visit the Jewish Museum! You can exchange a single point on the voucher called “V Praze jako doma“ (At Home in Prague) for admission to the Jewish Museum’s permanent exhibitions in three historical synagogues and the Ceremonial Hall, as well as the Old Jewish Cemetery and the Robert Guttmann Gallery, including an audio guide for the Jewish Town. You can get your ticket at the Museum’s Information Centre (address: Maiselova 15, Prague 1). For a night spent at a hotel, each person will get 2 points on a voucher, which can be used for free entry to partner sites and institutions or for the services of tour guides. More than 200 hotels are contractually involved in the “At Home in Prague” voucher programme.
Statement from the Federation of Jewish Communities in the Czech Republic, the Prague Jewish Community and the Jewish Museum in Prague concerning the newspaper article “Memorial vs. Memorials in Terezín”
The 30 June edition of the Czech newspaper Lidové noviny carried an article titled “Memorial vs. Memorials in Terezín” by Šimon Krbec (Executive Director of the Theresienstadt Centre for Genocide Studies in Terezín) and Pavel Chalupa (board member of the Jewish Liberal Union in the Czech Republic).
We regret to note that the facts presented in the article are mostly half-truths motivated by personal resentment; it is part of a long-term effort by the authors of the article to discredit the Memorial of Silence, an important memory institution built on the legacy of the Holocaust.
The attempt by the authors of the article to refer to the dismal state of some of the buildings in Terezín in connection with the Memorial of Silence is completely unfair. Moreover, it is apparent that the reference to the Jewish Liberal Union, which is supported by one of the authors, is completely manipulative, since the board of directors of this organization distanced itself from the content of the article on the day it was published.
At the same time, the authors of the article are not only seeking to discredit the Memorial of Silence. Their evident goal is to get the Minister of Culture Lubomír Zaorálek and, with him, the entire Czech government to change their stance towards the Memorial of Silence project at a time when the proposal is to be discussed at the government level.
We unequivocally condemn the misuse of the extremely serious and, for us personally, still sensitive topic of the Holocaust legacy for the sake of personal attacks and ignoble disputes, which do not in the slightest contribute to a dignified commemoration of the victims of Nazism. Furthermore, we express our full support for the Memorial of Silence and for the intention to make it operational with public funding.
Prague, 2 July 2020
Petr Papoušek, Chairman of the Federation of Jewish Communities in the Czech Republic
František Bányai, Chairman of the Prague Jewish Community
Leo Pavlát, Director of the Jewish Museum in Prague
The synagogues overseen by the Jewish Museum in Prague are among the Czech Republic’s most visited sacred sites
The synagogues overseen by the Jewish Museum in Prague are among the Czech Republic’s most visited sacred sites. According to a recently published report by the government’s tourist agency CzechTourism, the two most visited sacred sites in 2019 were the Pinkas and Klausen synagogues.
“We are pleased by the interest of our visitors," said Leo Pavlát, the director of the Jewish Museum in Prague. “It is an enriching experience to visit our synagogues. Dating from several historical periods, they house unique exhibitions of Jewish ritual objects and historical documents. We trust that they will attract new visitors also this year, despite the crisis caused by the pandemic.”
Last year, more than 640,000 visitors saw the Pinkas Synagogue, whose memorial walls contain the hand-painted names of Shoah victims from Bohemia and Moravia. About 440,000 people came to see the Baroque Klausen Synagogue and its permanent exhibition on Jewish traditions and customs.The Czech Republic’s fourth most visited sacred site in 2019 was the Maisel Synagogue, which houses a permanent exhibition on the history of the Jews in Bohemia and Moravia from their first settlements in the 10th century through to their emancipation at the end of the 18th century. This synagogue, dating from 1592, was visited by nearly 330,000 people.
In fifth place in terms of visitor numbers was the Prague Jewish community’s Gothic Old-New Synagogue, with just over 276,000. In eighth place was the Spanish Synagogue, with almost 220,000 – despite being closed from June 2019 for extensive reconstruction.
The Jewish Museum’s synagogues were also among the Czech Republic’s top 50 tourist attractions in terms of visitor numbers, with the Pinkas coming in at number ten and the Klausen at number 16. The Pinkas, Maisel and Klausen synagogues were among Prague’s top ten most visited tourist destinations. In the category of associated tourist destinations, the Jewish Museum in Prague ranked 6th.
Acquisition of unique photographic negatives and documents on the history of the Hagibor internment and labour camp in Prague from the period 1944–1945
The Jewish Museum in Prague has acquired an extremely valuable set of photographic negatives showing the premises of the Hagibor internment and labour camp in the Strašnice district of Prague during the Second World War. From the beginning of the 20th century, the Hagibor site included not only a hospital building and, later on, a nursing home and extensive grounds, but also the Jewish gymnastics and sports club Hagibor.
In the 1930s, the Hagibor club joined the Maccabi World Union and became a venue for vibrant cultural and social activities. The founding of the Nazi Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia in 1939 led to the loss of civil equality and human rights for the Jews. The Hagibor site was one of the last open-air places where Jewish children could play sports and spend their leisure time. Gradually, however, most of the Hagibor visitors were deported on mass transports to the ghetto in Terezín (Ghetto Theresienstadt). In July 1944, work began on the construction of single-storey wooden barracks measuring 12 × 41 metres, as well as garages, workshops and a guardhouse, on the vacated grounds. In addition, a sewerage system and water and electricity distribution lines were installed on the site.
From the end of the summer of 1944, the Hagibor barracks were used for the detention of “Mischlinge” (the offspring of mixed marriages) and Jewish spouses from mixed marriages. At the beginning of 1945, however, all of the inmates were deported to the Terezín ghetto for “geschlossener Arbeitseinsatz” (segregated labour deployment) on Transport “AE”. The Hagibor barracks were then used for the detention of non-Jewish partners of Jewish women and “Mischlinge”. The two dates given for the camp’s closure are the 3rd and 5th of May 1945.These remarkable photographs were taken by Otto Lang, one of the Jewish inmates who was sent to the camp on 17 September 1944. He took pictures not only of the prison barracks and the space between them, but also of the workshops in which the prisoners were put to forced labour. This set of material is of immense importance, as the images depict the entire area of the then camp and its surroundings. It was donated to the Jewish Museum by Otta Lang’s daughter, Mrs. Hana Langová Vepřeková from Brno.
Work started on the restoration of the Pressburg Curtain
In June 2020, with financial support from the Czech Ministry of Culture, work began on the restoration of a remarkable item from the Jewish Museum’s textile collection – the so-called Pressburg Curtain (Inv. No. 104.805). This curtain was made in 1731 and belonged to the Chevra Kadisha (Burial Society) of Pressburg (present-day Bratislava). Confiscated from an unspecified private collection, it was purchased by Prague’s former State Jewish Museum in 1951. The curtain is remarkable in that a rectangular Ottoman cover was used as a decoration for its central part. The cover is embroidered in gold- and silver-coloured metal thread, reminiscent of a solid metal relief decorated with rosettes, crescents and stylized tulips. It was brought to Central Europe by Ottoman troops involved in the siege of Vienna in 1683. Their defeat on 12 September 1683 and the subsequent pillaging of their military camp resulted in the “transfer” of rich Ottoman loot to the metropolises of the victorious Christian monarchs, including Pressburg, which was at that time the coronation city of the Hungarian kings.
After the restoration work, which is estimated to take two years to complete, the Pressburg Curtain will become a key piece in an exhibition of the Slovak National Gallery in Bratislava, which is currently under preparation as part of the project “The Ottoman Occupation of Central Europe in the 16th and 17th Centuries and its Historical Reflection”, to be held from October 2022 to March 2023. The research accompanying the preparation of this exhibition will certainly expand our existing knowledge of the Pressburg Curtain through new findings that reveal its origin and its subsequent fate before it became part of the collections of the Jewish Museum in Prague.
Statement from the Federation of Jewish Communities in the Czech Republic concerning the publication of a ‘Personalities of the Third Reich’ Calendar
The Jewish Museum in Prague fully endorses the statement made by the Federation of Jewish Communities in the Czech Republic concerning the publication of a Czech calendar with portraits of Third Reich protagonists by the Naše vojsko (Our Army) publishing house.
It has not been so long since both the Czech Republic and the international community were outraged by the fact that the Naše vojsko publishing house produces and sells T-shirts and cups with portraits of World War II war criminals. The Czech law enforcement authorities have stated that this material cannot be prosecuted under the current legislation. This apparently encouraged Naše vojsko to continue in their activity by producing another work of this kind, namely a 2021 calendar with portraits of Third Reich protagonists.
Both the actual content of the calendar and its graphic design clearly show that it not only supports Nazism – a movement suppressing human rights and freedoms – but also glorifies its leading figures, who were all Nazi war criminals. In our view, the arguments based on freedom of expression can no longer hold water in this case. The Federation of Jewish Communities has therefore decided to file a criminal complaint against the Naše vojsko publishing house and its director.
A new issue of the journal Judaica Bohemiae (Vol. 55/2020, 1)
A new issue of the journal Judaica Bohemiae (Vol. 55/2020, 1) came out in July 2020. This issue starts with a study by Iveta Cermanová (Official Discussions about the Toleration of Jews in Bohemia: On the Circumstances Surrounding the Issuance of the so-called Edict of Toleration in 1781) which, on the basis of newly found sources in the National Archives in Prague, deals with Joseph II’s policy of Jewish toleration with the aim of clarifying the circumstances under which the Court Decree (the so-called Edict of Toleration) for the Jews of Bohemia was issued on 19 October 1781. The next paper (Child Survivors and the Dynamics of Holocaust Memory in Late-Socialist Czechoslovakia), by Peter Hallama, provides an analysis of the first big gathering of Terezín child survivors in Prague and Terezín in the fall of 1986 and sheds new light on the dynamics of Jewish life and Holocaust memory in communist Czechoslovakia.
The Reports section contains a paper by Bernhard Purin on the topic of silver Judaica from the workshops of the Jewish goldsmiths Josef Ruhmann and Emanuel Eisler in Boskovice. This is followed by a report by Iveta Cermanová and Alexandr Putík on the Prague Jewish Museum’s role in the development of Jewish history research between 1945 and 2019. This analysis deals with the topics that were studied at the museum and the major works that were published there, as well as providing expert profiles of key researchers.
The final section of the journal contains reviews of the following books: Jaroslav Klenovský’s Encyklopedie židovských památek Moravy a Slezska [Encyclopaedia of Jewish Monuments in Moravia and Silesia] (reviewed by Arno Pařík); Filip Paulus, Šárka Steinová et al.’s Krajina a urbanismus na rukopisných plánech z 18. století. Translokační plány židovských obydlí v zemích Koruny české v letech 1727–1728 / Landscape and Urbanism in Manuscript Plans from the 18th Century: Translocation Plans of Jewish Settlements in the Lands of the Bohemian Crown from the Period of 1727–1728 (reviewed by Pavel Kocman); Jiří Roháček et al.’s Epigraphica & Sepulcralia 8, Fórum epigraﬁckých a sepulkrálních studií [Forum of Epigraphical and Sepulchral Studies] (reviewed by René Petráš and Miroslava Jouzová); Marie Bader’s Life and Love in Nazi Prague: Letters from an Occupied City, eds. Kate Ottevanger and Jan Láníček (reviewed by Wolfgang Schellenbacher); and Židé, nebo Němci? Německy mluvící Židé v poválečném Československu, Polsku a Německu [Jews or Germans? German-Speaking Jews in Czechoslovakia, Poland and Germany after World War II], eds. Kateřina Čapková and David Rechter (reviewed by Jakub Bronec).
Published since 1965 by the Jewish Museum in Prague, Judaica Bohemiae focuses on Jewish history and culture in Bohemia, Moravia and the wider Central European area (the territory of the former Habsburg Monarchy). The texts are published in English and German.
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Editor: Tomáš Tetiva
Photographs: JMP unless otherwise stated