WIR WAREN NACHBARN
(WE WERE NEIGHBOURS)
Exhibition at Schöneberg City Hall
Biographies of Jewish eyewitnesses
The exhibition ”We were neighbours” is inspired by a remembrance project on Jewish eyewitness memories launched more than 30 years ago. Initially it meant identifying and contacting Schöneberg residents who, expelled from their homes in the Nazi aera, were dispersed all over the world. From the far reaches of the globe, these forgotten voices were gathered to form, in 2005, a unique remembrance site in the City Hall of Schöneberg to commemorate Jewish neighbors persecuted and murdered from 1933 to 1945. Similar to the arrangement of a reading room in an old library biographical albums are spread out in the center of the grand exhibition hall. Visitors can sit at tables, each supplied with a reading lamp, to explore the albums.
At the present more than 150 biographical albums document the lifes and everyday ordeals of Jewish citizens who lived in the current district Tempelhof-Schöneberg in the Nazi aera. The majority of narratives concerning individuals or families were developed in tandem with respective eyewitnesses. Private photographs, official documents and personal accounts enable rare insights into the different fates of individuals. Several albums are dedicated to famous writers, artists, scientists and athletes, among them a remarkable number of progressive women.
Life before and after 1933 is depicted in the exhibition, along with the cruel flight into exile and, most frequently, the deportation and murder of family members. However, the albums also describe survival and life after the Holocaust up until the present day. They often raise the topic of remembrance and the forms it should take, such as memorial plaques, bio-graphical publications, traditional memorials, or so-called stumbling stones.
When the National Socialists came to power in 1933, more than 16,000 Jews lived in Schöneberg — approximately 7.35% of the district´s inhabitants. Within Schöneberg the “Bayerische Viertel” (Bavarian Quarter) was particularly popular. Under the Nazi regime, more than 6,000 Jewish inhabitants were deported from Schöneberg to extermination camps, often as their neighbours looked on. Of the 2,300 Jewish citizens who lived in Tempelhof (2.03% of Tempelhof’s population) 203 neighbours were deported.
In 1987 Andreas Wilcke listed the names of the deportees by hand on small cards and arranged them by street names. They were placed on the walls of the exhibition. In essence, they surround or even frame the biographical albums. Together, cards and albums form a type of memorial.
The overall concept for the exhibition is that of a “work in progress” – every year new biographical material will be added and each exhibition will focus on another aspect of life in this period. In 2012, the exhibition was dedicated to the district’s “Jewish physicians”. The Berlin-wide theme for 2013 – “Destroyed Diversity 1933-1945” – saw artists from different disciplines at the heart of the exhibition. Last year (2014) focused on Jewish participation in WWI : “From Patriotism to Pacifism”.
This year’s (2016) theme is “Forerunners - Jewish women: Creative, Critical, politically and socially Engaged.” New biographies are being prepared of poet Mascha Kaléko, composer Ursula Mamlok and sculptress Renée Sintenis among others and will be com-plemented by lectures and special events about other Jewish women of the 1920s.
We would like to thank the Berlin Senate Chancellery of Cultural Affairs for helping to turn “We were Neighbours” into a permanent exhibition in 2010. In close cooperation with the district Tempelhof-Schöneberg the association “frag doch!” (do ask!) is maintaining and continuously extending the exhibition.
WE WERE NEIGHBOURS
Schöneberg City Hall, John-F.-Kennedy-Platz 1, 10825 Berlin,
Ask: Big Exhibition-Hall
Admission is free, open Saturday-Thursday 10am-6pm
(for groups and school visits open also on Fridays after prior reservation)
Group visits and wheelchair visitors: Please register in advance.
Registration and Information: Tel. (030) 90277-4527
The canteen at Rathaus Schöneberg is open to the public:
Mo-Th: 7am-2.30pm, Fr: 7am-2pm