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Photographic Collection

Photo studio with a mirror and a camera pointed at the viewer

Ilse Bing, Self-portrait with camera and mirror, 1931
© Jewish Museum Berlin

The photographic collection was defined as such in early 2006. The Jewish Museum's photographs date back, for the most part, to the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th centuries, but also include earlier examples. Geographically, most were taken in Germany and the countries to which German Jews emigrated.

The majority of the photographs, over 7,000, are sets of family documents in the historical collection. They show the lives of the German-Jewish bourgeoisie in imperial Germany and the Weimar Republic, their private and also their working lives. There are numerous shots from the First World War.

In the 1920s, sport becomes an increasingly popular theme while in the 1930s, lessons in Jewish schools or retraining courses in preparation for emigration dominate, followed by shots of actual emigration, and later of life in exile or beginning anew in Germany.

Ein Mann auf der Laufbahn bei Sonnenschein //Athlete running on a training field

Sports is one of the themes of the Photographic Collection.
© Jewish Museum Berlin, photo: Herbert Sonnenfeld

One of the most extensive and significant sub-collections holds 3,000 photographs of Jewish social and community establishments, cultural as well as sport events between 1933 and 1938, taken by press photographer Herbert Sonnenfeld. The over 500 photos of Jewish forced laborers at the Berlin electrical firm Ehrich & Graetz are also an impressive sub-collection. Alongside these holdings, there are smaller collections and individual works by renowned photographers of the 1920s and 1930s and contemporary works.


Theresia Ziehe
Curator of Photography
Tel: +49 (0)30 259 93 561
Fax: +49 (0)30 259 93 409

A current focus within the photographic collection is the extension of the documentation of German-Jewish history since 1945.

Photographs of religious and social life in the Jewish communities and public events that provide information on German-Jewish relations are of particular interest to the Museum.

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