29. August 2014

Riemenschneider III wird restituiert: „Gebetbuch für das ganze Jahr mit deutscher Sprache und nach deutscher Tradition“, Amsterdam 1714

Riemenschneider II Torahrolle, erworben 1993

A SHORT OUTLINE: THE COLLECTION OF JEWISH CEREMONIAL OBJECTS IN THE MUNICIPAL MUSEUM GÖTTINGEN (Part II)

History of Acquisition (Sequel) This limited success ended with the rise of National Socialism and its delusions about racial purity. The collection was stored away in the basement of the Museum in 1936. Everything Jewish – be it Jewish as an acquired or ascribed identity – was stigmatized; what finally led to the known catastrophic consequences. The attitude of the Nazi administration towards the collection can`t be clearly interpreted from the sparse historic sources. Fact is that the collection survived. Some additional objects were acquired by the Museum from local Jewish families during the Nazi era. Since the circumstances of acquisition can`t be reconstructed en detail, those objects –representative furniture, some prayer books and house hold textiles  – will be restituted to the descendants this year (2014). In the 1980-90s the public discussion about the Nazi past in Germany gained momentum. In this time a second peak of acquisitions of Jewish ceremonial objects can be discerned in the documents. Those objects were mostly without any relation to regional history and in most cases bought on the national and international art market. Was it an attempt to fill the gap that was left by the Holocaust with Jewish objects? To calm down an unease, to let objects answer questions that where not yet clearly shaped? Was it helplessness, the mere and thoughtless joy of collecting or the attempt to complete a collection of Jewish ceremonial objects? Hard to say today because the former museum administration left no documents concerning collecting policies. Some ritual objects like a yad, a chanukkiah and a candelabrum were given as items on loan to one of the two Jewish communities that were recreated in Göttingen in the 1990s. In turn the Jewish community (Angerstraße) sometimes gives or passes on items that were given to it to the museum.

Glimpse into the Future – The present restoration of the Museum complex, the corresponding continuous movement of objects and current research paradigms like the process of creating knowledge and objects as a source of knowledge – all this poses a challenge and a chance at the same time for the Municipal Museum. The results of the ongoing research, including the Jewish ceremonial objects, will form the shape of the future up-to-date permanent exhibition. To secure one of the fundamental tasks of a museum – to preserve and to display objects – a part of the total collection of the Municipal Museum is undergoing a preservative treatment at the moment. This is the case for a part of the Museum`s collection of Jewish ceremonial objects, too. Objects consisting of organic material are being treated with nitrogen in order to prevent the potentially damaging effects of organisms like insects, microorganisms, etc.

(Christian Riemenschneider, wissenschaftlicher Volontär)

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