March 15, 2013 - December 1, 2013

Victors, Liberators, Occupiers: German jews in the service of the Allies

“I wept when I got my rifle… I wasn’t defenseless anymore. For the first time, I could defend myself.” Many German-Jewish refugees who fought against Nazi Germany on the side of the coalition against Hitler shared the sentiments of the famous author Stefan Heym. Persecuted in Germany, they returned as liberators.

The temporary exhibition focuses on unfamiliar life stories as well as prominent biographies such as that of the Nobel Peace laureate Henry Kissinger, the writer Stefan Heym or the journalist Ernst Cramer.

The often-dramatic escapes and difficulties of beginning anew in their host countries are also addressed. By 1943, German Jews had been integrated into all Allied armies. They fought in North Africa and Sicily, or landed in Normandy on D-Day. After the victory over Nazi Germany, they helped to shape the country’s political future as part of the military administration and participated in denazification, reeducation, and building a democratic broadcasting system and press. Some of the former refugees were deployed in their former home regions, where in some cases they even came face to face with those who had once persecuted them. Returning was especially terrible for those who personally experienced the liberation of the concentration camps.

Original objects, photos, and impressive eyewitness interviews help to bring the memorable biographies alive. The temporary exhibition illuminates fourteen turbulent and moving life stories, which supplement existing narratives of the suffering and sacrifices of German Jews in the face of Nazi extermination policy.

The temporary exhibition is the Allied Museum’s contribution to the Berlin Theme Year “Diversity Destroyed. Berlin, 1933–1938–1945.“ A trilingual (German, English, French) brochure to accompany the exhibition is available at the Museum.

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