The Breslau Jewish Museum and the Construction of German Identity

University of Sydney
Publication Type:
Conference Proceeding
German Studies Association Australia 2014, 2014
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The Breslau Jewish Museum's brief history mirrors the changing identity German Jews held in the national community between 1928 and 1938. The Museum was initially founded by an optimistic group of prominent Breslau Jews who wished to both chronicle and celebrate the place Jews had in Weimar era Silesian and Breslau culture. But the group's ambitions soon had to be reassessed. After Hitler's assumption of power in 1933 it became increasingly clear that Jewishness was not to be flaunted or celebrated publicly, much less institutionally. As Jews came under attack, the Jewish Museum assumed the defensive role of guardian of Jewish heritage, objects and culture. Its new isolation from the non-Jewish Silesian and Breslau communities paralleled the growing marginalization of German Jews generally. The Museum's closure just days before Kristallnacht in 1938 seems prescient; both events signalled the end of Jewish life in Germany and the abrogation of German Jewish identity.
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