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‘Another Country’: Exhibition reveals Jewish lives in communist East Germany

BERLIN (DPA): “Some fled Germany before the Nazis and returned to the Soviet zone after 1945” according to Hetty Berg, the director of Berlin’s Jewish Museum.

She further elaborated that another group arrived in East Germany after enduring concentration camps or hiding during the Nazi era.

The stories of Jews who returned to and remained in Germany despite their experiences there under the Nazis are now the subject of an exhibition at Berlin’s Jewish Museum spotlighting several lives in the GDR.

“Many of them had hoped to build a free, anti-fascist state with the former East Germany,” Berg said ahead of the exhibition’s formal opening. According to her, many at that time referred to the idea of creating “another country”.

The exhibition titled “Another Country” runs from Sept. 8 to Jan. 14 and uses belongings and accounts from Jews and their children to illustrate everyday life in the eight Jewish communities of Communist East Germany.

“The stories open up a variety of insights into the lives of Jews,” Berg said, adding that the exhibition gives “Jewish perspectives on German post-war history.”

Numerous personal documents are exhibited in the museum rooms, filled with works of art, films, and other exhibits that, Berg says, show “what it meant to be Jewish in former East Germany.”

In addition to the largest community in East Berlin, the exhibition looks at the smaller communities of Dresden, Leipzig, Magdeburg, Erfurt, Schwerin, Halle, and Karl-Marx-Stadt, now Chemnitz.

The focus is on everyday life and social history, fleeing to the West at the beginning of the 1950s, and the response to the Six-Day War in 1967 between Israel and Egypt, Jordan and Syria.