In-Depth Investigation of Selected Collections at the Schlossmuseum Jever with respect to Tangibles and Documents Unlawfully Seized from Jewish Citizens of Jever and Friesland from 1933 to 1945
- Prof. Dr. Antje Sander
Telephone: + 49 (0) 4461 969 35 0
- Christiane Baier
Telephone: +49 (0) 4461 969 35 34
- October 2015 to September 2016
- October 2016 to September 2017
- October 2017 to September 2018
Initial questions and project objectives
Based on findings gathered in a previous short-term project, the Schlossmuseum Jever aims to conduct an in-depth systematic investigation of various collections.
This comprehensive investigation focuses on Jewish cultic items and documents stored in the museum’s archive (so-called “Jewish Files”), which have already evoked reasonable suspicion (prior short-term project), as well as entire sub-collections, i.e. tin, silver, porcelain, furniture and book collections. Information provided by residents of Jever and the surrounding region, contemporary witnesses as well as a report by the Kunsthalle Bremen regarding a book donation to the Jeverländischer Altertums- und Heimatverein by the collector Arnold Blome, have further substantiated existing suspicion that certain items in the collections are linked to Nazi persecution.
In addition to the objects and archived materials at Schlossmuseum Jever, the researchers will also examine yet unscrutinised files stored at the Jever city archive and Friesland district archive.
The Schlossmuseum Jever is vigorously pursuing this project. It aims to identify all objects with suspicious provenance and fill the gaps in their history as completely as possible. The task of determining the provenance of these objects has become increasingly urgent as the last living contemporary witnesses who could provide key information for the investigation are now quite advanced in age.
The goal is to conduct and record interviews with the contemporary witnesses. These documentations will then be used to build a contemporary witness archive in the long term. To this end, the Schlossmuseum Jever wishes to collaborate more intensively with the Jever-based “Gröschler House - Centre for the History of the Jews and the Contemporary History in the (Northern German) Region of Friesland/Wilhelmshaven” which cultivates contacts to the descendants of Jewish citizens.
Contextual research will also be conducted during this project phase, e.g. researchers will draft short biographies and descriptions of the relevant historical figures and institutions. Since the long-term investigation began, researchers have gained new insights into the museum’s collection history during the era of National Socialism, e.g. that objects were removed during the war years and stored at the Grasleben salt mine. Researchers also learned more about the activities of other management staff of the Jeverländischer Altertums- und Heimatverein, for example, the archive director Georg Andrée.
For lack of comprehensive and professionally kept inventory books during that period, the project began building a special digital object database in October 2015 containing all of the items that entered the collections of the Schlossmuseum Jever from 1933 to 1945. Approximately 500 pieces have been documented and added to the database so far.
The database is comprised of information regarding the acquisition of the pieces, gathered from a wide array of archival materials: the museum’s inventory books, protocols, correspondence and other documents from the Jeverländischer Altertums- und Heimatverein, and a series of newspaper articles printed in the Jeversches Wochenblatt.
Establishing this object database is the prerequisite for all further provenance research-related work slated to take place in the second half of the long-term project.
Apart from the Judaica mentioned above, the museum is not aware of any other works with suspicious provenance at present. However, the number of illegally confiscated Judaica may be higher than anticipated. After reviewing the correspondence between the Jewish Trust Corporation for Germany (JTC), which has conducted research on the whereabouts of Judaica at municipal agencies after World War II, with the Jeverländischer Altertums- und Heimatverein, researchers discovered there may be other objects in the collections of the Schlossmuseum Jever which had been illegally confiscated from Jewish owners. According to correspondence with JTC, several panels were removed from two synagogues in Jever after the Pogrom Night of 1938 and were stored at the Schlossmuseum until after 1945. There is no record of their addition to the collections in the museum’s inventory books.
List of project-relevant historical figures and institutions
Jeverländischer Altertums- und Heimatverein e.V.:
- Martin Folkerts, mayor of Jever and chairman of the Jeverländischer Altertums- und Heimatverein, term in office: 1937-1945, appointed association chairman again in 1950;
- Karl Fissen, schoolmaster and local historian (*1885 in Jever †1978 in Oldenburg)
- Carl Woebcken, pastor and local historian (*1878 in Neuenburg † 1965 in Jever)
- Georg Janßen-Sillenstede, local historian, director of the Schlossmuseum Jever (1877-1947)
- Georg Andrée (*1885 in Jever † 1957 in Jever) secondary-school teacher, local historian, responsible for the library and archive of the Schlossmuseum Jever since 1926
- Heinrich Wille (*1904 in Bremen † 2001 in Jever), freelance journalist and author, association secretary 1935
- Friedrich A. Lange, editor-in-chief of the “Jeversches Wochenblatt”, board member of the Heimatverein Jever in the 1920s, founding member of the NSDAP (Nazi party) in Jever, responsible for disseminating National Socialistic ideology in the 1920s
- Paul Anton Liebenow, gardener, worked for the Jever municipal administration (*12.11.1901 in Schwerin, † ca. 1951), played a central role in the destruction of the Jever synagogue and was convicted in the synagogue arson trial of 1951
Transparency (e.g. planned publications, essays, exhibitions, press releases, website)
The research findings will be presented in a compendium of essays.
The project will hold a workshop for regional local associations in cooperation with the University of Oldenburg. A cabinet exhibition is also planned.