Here’s our interview with Sapir von Abel, Curator of Education at the Jewish Museum Munich, regarding the museum’s activities for the EDJC and the special exhibitition devoted to the fate of the displaced persons after the war.

Jewish Museum Munich. Photo by Franz Kimmel – JMM

Jguideeurope: How will the Jewish Museum of Munich celebrate the EDJC?

Sapir von Abel: The Jewish Museum Munich will celebrate this year’s EDJC by offering a variety of programs for adults as well as families and children.

Our focus this year will be the theme “Displaced Persons” as our current exhibition – “Munich Displaced – The Surviving Remnant” deals with the period after World War II from a Jewish point of view. Shoah survivors, mostly from Eastern Europe, stranded in Munich during the years 1945–1951 in their effort to leave the country. Munich quickly became a pivotal centre for the Jewish DPs in gathering documents, learning a profession, or getting back their health before the majority of them left the country towards Israel, the US or other countries overseas. The exhibition sheds light on the local infrastructure that was central for the Jewish survivors to start their new life after the Shoah.

On the EDJC our visitors are welcome to join with free admission one of our guided tours through the exhibition where they will also have the chance to speak with one of the researchers who worked on the project.

Displaced persons exhibition. Photo by Daniel Schvarcz – JMM

Additionally, we are also offering a guided tour through the Munich neighbourhood Bogenhausen, where many international aid organisations had their offices after the war. The biggest marketplace of the city with many local merchants and shops also happened to be in this neighbourhood.

On display in the museum´s study room is also a painting by the artist Samuel Bak who survived the Shoah and later was admitted at a DP Camp.

Lastly, we welcome families and their children to join our interactive tour on Judaism in our permanent exhibition where we will explore together the richness of Jewish traditions, rituals and festivities.

Are there other cultural events organized for 2023-24?

During the next six months we are planning on additional events in connection with the current exhibition “Munich Displaced – The Surviving Remnant”, e.g., readings and discussions. On October 14 we celebrate the “Long Night of the Munich Museums” and have our house open until 1 am, as well as many other museums in Munich. The museum will offer a variety of programs as well as a live music at the foyer.

Permanent exhibition. Photo by Franz Kimmel – JMM

Can you share an emotional encounter with a visitor at the museum?

The exhibition “Munich Displaced – The Surviving Remnant ” firstly offers a perspective on a local history that has never been part of the public eye. For many of our visitors, especially older ones, it brings back memories from their time when they were young. As the exhibition is also asking visitors to contribute objects that could fill gaps of the local history, personal conversations between the museum staff and the visitors occur that normally wouldn´t happen. These are very special moments for us. As the exhibition is also stimulating questions on such themes as belonging, home and refuge, younger visitors engage in conversations about migration and identity, topics that are relevant for many of us also today.

Which place related to Jewish heritage in Munich should be better known?

One of the former synagogues that existed before the war still exist today and is currently undergoing extensive renovation. The Reichenbach Synagogue will be open for public hopefully next year and is an outstanding example of Jewish German history that everyone should know.