The entrance to the first Berlin Jewish Museum. Image courtesy of Centrum Judaicum.
As valuable as art can be, Karl Schwarz knew that life is much more precious. That is why he fled with his family to Tel Aviv from Berlin only months after opening the first Jewish museum in that city in January, 1933. Now, almost 80 years later, a portion of the art that Schwarz collected has been painstakingly reassembled and put on display on the same spot where his museum once stood.
The search for the art, looted and stashed away by the Nazis, has preoccupied Hermann Simon, director of the Centrum Judaicum (which stands where the museum once did, next to the New Synagogue on Oranienburgerstrasse) and his deputy, Chana Schuetz, for the past 30 years. Not all the components of the original collection, which included works by Max Liebermann, Marc Chagall, Lesser Ury, Moritz Oppenheim and Leonid Pasternak, have been located. The majority of those that have been recovered are on loan to the Centrum Judaicum for the show, which is titled “In Search of a Lost Collection.”