The oustanding event of the year in Bamberg was the Bavarian National Exhibition arranged by the Haus der Bayerischen Geschichte, the Bamberg Historical Museum and the Bavarian State Library in Bamberg. It was to celebrate the 1000th anniversary of the crowning of Kinglater emperor - Heinrich II. It took place in the Historical Museum, the State Library and the Diocesan Museum. There were about 10 specially written short plays performed out of doors, showing aspects of the life of Heinrich II, in various venues around the Historical Museum. and the Alte Hofhaltung. (until the middle of the 18th century, the palace of the Princebishops). Old Music was performed and recorded on a CD for the occasion by the Bamberg Musica Antiqua, directed by its founder Professor Wolfgang Spindler.
An example of a mediaeval village house built on the Domplatz went up in flames a few days before the start of the exhibition, but as mainly the straw roof was completely destroyed, there was enough left to give a good impression.
The beautifully produced companion volume of 440 pages included essays by renowned mediaevalists and the exhibition catalogue. With its innumerable colour and black and white plates the volume is in itself an education in mediaeval history, culture and daily life of Franconia, a work of art and scholarship.
The exhibition attracted 205000 visitors, a number equal to almost three times the Bamberg population. It was a boon to Bamberg hotels and traders and, although of high cost, it also helped to put some welcome money into the coffers of the financially straitened Bamberg city council.
Although the exhibition was not of direct Jewish interest, there was on display a privilege document from emperor Otto II of 2 April 981 for a monastery, which had bought land in Regensburg from a Jew called Samuel. It was one of the oldest, if not the oldest exhibit, which indicated how far back there was a Jewish settlement in Regensburg.
Two exhibitions in Bamberg during my stay in July were indeed of direct Jewish interest:
“Anwalt ohne Recht”
(Solicitor without Justice)This small travelling exhibition was arranged by the Bundesanwaltkammer (Federal Chamber of Advocates) and the Deutsche Juristentag (Organisation of German Jurists) and shown at the Oberlandesgericht (Superior State Court, of which there are only three in Bavaria) in Bamberg. The main exhibition showed examples of the appalling treatment of German Jewish lawyers by the Nazis. In his address at the opening, Heinrich Olmer pointed that only in a few cases did their non-Jewish colleagues show any solidarity with them.
In a separate room, the fate of 12 Bamberg Jewish lawyers was displayed. Most of the portraits were taken from my book.
While there was no exhibition catalogue, the Oberlandesgericht published a small brochure describing the life and fate of the Bamberg Jewish lawyers. A partly illustrated version, with the title Diener des Rechts - rechtlos gemacht (Servants of justice - robbed of their rights) appeared in the Fränkischer Tag of 15 June. (See also the FT 22 June, “Ein beklemmender Einblick”).
“Deutsche Jüdische Soldaten”
(German Jewish Soldiers)
Another travelling exhibition, at the City Archive, was brought to Bamberg on the initiative of Chriss Fiebig and with the active support of Dr. Robert Zink, the director of the archive.
Put together by the Military Research Office of the Federal German Defence Forces, the 63 panels show the story of Jewish soldiers from 1805 to 1918. And what a sad story it is. In spite of their commitment to serve what they thought was their country, too, they had to endure many obstacles, insults and lack of promotion. Although at the outbreak of the 1914 war, Kaiser Wilhelm II had announced that he no longer knew parties or other divisions in the social fabric of the country but only Germans, the enthusiasm of Jews to serve and their losses in blood were ill rewarded. Not only was there much antisemitism in the forces, but the War Ministry set up the infamous Judenzählung (a count of Jewish soldiers), because it was rumoured that they avoided military service. The results were never published, because they showed that the percentage of Jews was in fact at least as great as that of the Bavarian non-Jewish population.
After the end of the War, some top military men like Ludendorff blamed the Jews for the defeat of Germany and promoted a vicious antisemitism.
The exhibition was so large that it required several visits to take it all in. Items on Bamberg Jewish Soldiers were added by the City archive.
Not the least remarkable part of the exhibition was a companion volume of essays by specialist historians, with a bibliography which will save future historians much time.
I was asked to make one of the speeches at the opening of the exhibition on 2 July. I had not, of course, seen it beforehand and concentrated on the ex- perience of Bamberg Jews.
I will gladly make a copy of my speech available to anyone interested.
(See FT 5 July “Unrühmliches Kapitel der Geschichte”, FT 13. August “Die Vaterländische Pflicht erfüllt”. and Rathaus Journal Nr. 14, 2002 “Wie aus Integration Ausgrenzung und Vernichtung wurde”). For this occasion Chriss Fiebig reprinted Eckstein’s “Haben die Juden in Bayern ein Heimatrecht?” (1929), (ISBN Nr. 3-00-009528-4), ob- tainable from Chriss Fiebig or the book trade.
During my visit in October/November, there were two more travelling exhibitions of Jewish interest
“Entrechtet - entwürdigt - verjagt”
This exhibition, open from 21 June to 31 July, was again mounted at the Ober- landesgericht .It showed the works of 70 artists which the Nazis described as entartet (degenerate), inluding some who were Jewish, members of other minoritie and some known for their ”Left” views, For special reasons, the exhibition concentrated on artists living and working in Hamburg.
(Information from Catalogue and visit).
(Conscientous without conscience)
This was the title of an exhibition at the Bamberg City Archive,arranged by the Institute for the History of Medicine at the University Erlangen-Nürnberg, on the criminal experiments on human beings under the Nazi regime.
The exhibition raised the questions “How could Doctors carry out such experiments” and who were these monsters? How were such doctors dealt with after 1945 and what became of the surviving victims?
“It was worse than death, which is at least a normal end to human life” a Polish woman suvivor of such experiments recalled. (See FT of 28 September, “Schlimmer als der Tod”).
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© by Thomas Starz