Room of Families

Picture: Room 2: Fates of Jewish families in Europe

Using the fate of 15 Jewish families as examples, various differing social, national, cultural and religious life worlds are presented in this room. This helps to illustrate in vivid form the contrast between life before, during and after the persecution, the destruction of Jewish culture and the associated loss. Photographs and personal documents report on the splitting up, expulsion and destruction of these families and their members.

The histories of Jewish families mirror the multi-faceted variety of the life worlds of the European Jews before the Holocaust. Religious traditions were kept and passed on within the family. The stories shown here also point up the process of change which the European Jews went through as religious and political reform movements strengthened in the 19th century. The changes between the generations are clearly recognizable in the portraits on exhibit. In the face of mounting antisemitism in the 1930s the family, along with the Jewish Community, offered an important source of strength for those persecuted. In large parts of Europe the German occupation tore apart and sundered nearly all family bonds. As many as six million people fell victim to the mass murder. The few survivors often lost all their relatives. Their life world and cultural environment had been extinguished. In stark contrast with the family histories presented here, often not even single photographs were preserved.