A Conceptual Museum – an Eerie Place

Jewish Museum, Vienna

“Auschwitz werden uns die Deutschen niemals verzeihen!“

According to a post-war “saying” – which can be referred to as ironic only with reservation – the Germans would never forgive the Jews for Auschwitz. “What has remained after Auschwitz is anti-Semitism, because of Auschwitz.”2 It is all rather relevant: let us just think of the not particularly fine or overcoded anti-Semitism supported by a multi-party consensus in Austria, which after 1945 for decades defined itself as Hitler’s first victim.3 As a result, the survivors of the former Jewish community, who despite everything remained in Austria, were left outside contemporary Austrian cultural public life and existed in a marginalised condition, in an enclave, just like after 1938.4 It is a fact that in the end the Austrian political elite was forced by the largest post-war scandal in the Republic – the sham existence (Lebenslüge) to use the expression in Ibsen’s The Wild Duck, i.e. the Waldheim affair in 1986 and other embarrassing events occurring for years, such as the lengthy trial about the ownership of Egon Schiele’s Portrait of Wally held by the Leopold Museum – to accept the IKG (Israelistische Kulturgemeinde) and the Jewish community, including several secular Russian and Iranian emigrés with different cultural approaches, in contemporary society’s public life and, as a result, after decades to provide it with a museum, with a budget allocated by the municipality, which could be interpreted as part of the European network of museums.

¶ The establishment and contemporary activity of the Freud Museum, which can be regarded as the prefiguration of the Jewish Museum from several aspects, point at the prehistory of this belated change. By now it has become a small yet important and accepted memorial place, as well as a public museum in Vienna, which, unlike the Jewish Museum, has fully preserved the sharp and critical approach, which after the removal of its chief curator, Felicitas Heimann-Jelinek, in 2010, the latter had to give up, if not fully as a result of the pressure partly from the state and the city, and partly from the religious Viennese Jewish community. Due to different reasons and under different circumstances, nevertheless the inevitably metaphorical and critical ‘nature’ of a conceptual museum can be referred to in both cases. Perhaps it is not mere chance that the logic and aesthetic norms of these institutes were created and enforced by the reconstruction of partly the same great and suppressed story in the same city.

¶ The disappearance of Freud’s life in Vienna, namely his memory in Austria during 1950s and 60s – from the city he thought he could regard as his own – is largely connected with the marginalization of the Jewish community as a whole, although it is also true that the narrow reception of psychoanalysis during the Anschluss and after the war also played a particular role. (Setting up Freud’s memorial in 1985 and the establishment of the Jewish Museum were due to the same mayor, Helmuth Zilk.)

¶ Freud, his wife, sister-in-law and youngest child, Anna Freud, left Vienna on 4 June 1938. As Freud wrote, he went to die in freedom and indeed he died in his Hampstead home at 20 Maresfield Gardens on 23 September 1939. His personal effects, which were formerly kept at 19 Berggasse, can be seen today in the museum established in his London house: his collection of antique sculpture, items of furniture, books, his desk and, last but not least, his legendary couch covered with the Oriental rug, which has become an object of fetish.5

¶ After Anna Freud’s first visit to Vienna after 1938, in 1971, she returned a few items of furniture and books to the then completely empty museum, which made its position even more embarrassing. The Nazis first used the Freud family’s home as a “Jewish communal” apartment. Then it stood empty for some time, similarly to the other flats in the building from 1941 (after the Jews had been forced into the ghetto). Later, families of non-Jewish origin and Wehrmacht soldiers moved into the flat, which was classified as a Reichsmietwohnung.6 Freud and his family had first moved into flat No. 5, then they bought the next-door flat No. 6 on the same floor.7 They were compelled to emigrate from those, hence after 1938 only the spirit of the original residence remained in Vienna. Edmund Engelman took photographs of the apartment in the days immediately before their emigration and emptying the flat.8 The original condition could be reconstructed with the help of the photographs taken behind pulled down blinds in the city already ruled by the SS. Thus their life-size copies have been displayed at appropriate locations in the museum/flat.9 So the museum has become a medial copy of the former residence in the original place. It is a fact that the museum is still mainly empty, thus it has become a place that can be fitted into the interpretational frame of concept art and location-specific art, which can be seen as eerie. Lydia Marinelli, the research director of the museum who died tragically at a young age, very precisely recorded the history of emptiness, the path that led to the present condition, in connection with Vera Frenkel’s conceptual film shown in the museum.

¶ “[after 1938] New tenants move into his Vienna apartment. The rooms become the setting for new stories of which carries beyond the apartment walls, some parts of the apartment are occupied by these tenants until the mid 1980s. […] One of those who visited Freud’s house at Berggasse 19 in the 1960s and found to his disappointment nothing but a shabby and locked door, was Jacques Lacan. What he had hoped to see but a house, plain and simple…. An  authentic atmosphere is conserved here as in a time capsule by reducing history to one very specific temporal plane. A historically distant becomes sensory close, everyday mundanities are charges with the particular characteristics of a represented subject.  It is precisely this function of reassurance that the Vienna Museum cannot fulfill. The expectation of finding certain traces of individual, a particular history, is frustrated.”10

¶ The empty museum space and the eeriness of a narrative without objects are based on disappointment, frustration and the unquenchable expectations bound to the “original place”: doubting the self-evidence of the continuous past can mostly be and is to be connected with the (museum) question, which was Felicitas Heimann-Jelinek’s concept defining the Jewish Museum and which is the reason why concrete historical, i.e. Holocaust historical parallelisms and analogies, can be seen between the two museums. What is even more important is that the aesthetic and political answers given to their position were close to one another or nearly identical.11 The concept of the chief curator of the Jewish Museum, which has existed again since 1990 in the Palais Eskeles in the middle of Dorotheergasse, a quiet side street in the city centre, and which has been altered several times in the past decades (“The return to the old classical museum tradition is not possible after Auschwitz. Above all, the main interest of a post-1945 European Jewish Museum should be to motivate its visitors to ask themselves the right questions.”),12 appears to be an illustration of the mediatized memory politics and methodology of psychoanalysis.

¶ It is noteworthy, even if in one case it concerned the establishment of conceptual museology by compulsion and in the other involved a museum philosophical and intellectual decision historicizing its own collection. The history of the Freud Museum can be seen and interpreted as a series of conscious reflections about emptiness and the homelessness of those being at home. As Matti Bunzl states with reason, in the case of the Jewish Museum (which after decades got back a large part of its objects stolen by the Nazis) the aim was to emphasise the break that occurred in the historical time, i.e. to make it clear that a Jewish Museum cannot exhibit its objects representing Judaica as if the irrevocable had not happened.

¶ “Working in a cultural context in which the oppression of Jews looms large from the past, the museum’s curators face complex challenges of representation. The critical question for them is how to represent the complexity of the Jewish past and present without reverting to an essentialization of Jewish existence.” (italics added – P. Gy.)13

¶ It is important to see that the basic issue and problem for the museum, which opened in 1895 and focused on presenting Judaism, more precisely related Judaica objects, involved the manner of how Jewry can be included into and represented in modern, contemporary society.14 Yet the border lines of scientific classification, namely specifying strategies at the end of the century, that is the anthropological and ethnological (biological and social in today’s sense) fields, were positioned elsewhere from today and implicitly the aversion and dread of the post- National Socialist world regarding racial theory and biological distinctions, along with its reservation corresponding to the extent of the trauma, were not always present.15 The “difference” of the eastern Jews included simultaneously ritual and religious differences, cultural norms connected to them and finally physical anthropological concepts and observations. The far-reaching work of Samuel Weissenberg, a Jewish Russian physician, anthropologist and ethnographer, is a good example of the original state of by now already historical examination. His study Zur Antropologie der Deutschen Juden published in 1911 documents this transition, similarly to his Jüdische Museen und Jüdisches in Museen, Reiseeindrücke of 1907.

¶ Implicitly the Jewish Museum in Vienna could not represent anything else in the Monarchy than the history and self-image of Jewish communities who became socialised in western and eastern ways of life and social contexts. The assimilated, Arad-born Isidor Kaufmann’s painting played an important part in creating that self-image, which presented Galician Jewry in an idyllic retro-Biedermeier16 style. It was popular in his own time and later became a source of cultural history. The visual representation of eastern Jews, namely its interpretation for western reception was Kaufmann’s opportunity, role as well as indisputable achievement. The presentation of Ashkenazi Jewry according to the standards and traditions of western art history, which was also mythicized by Martin Buber, was an indisputably successful product of the museum and the Jewish community. At the same time, besides his painting Kaufmann did much to have romantic pathos and anthropological and ethnographic authenticity enforce one another. The total installation – a concept used by contemporary art – called Die Gute Stube (Shabbat Room) created for the museum by the painter in 1899, i.e. a documentary reconstruction of Jewish life compiled from objects considered authentic, served the sensory evidence of the significance of the Sabbath. The significant issue involved the appearance of historical authenticity and genuineness in line with current historical scientific and ethnographic standards, according to which the literal use of Die Gute Stube is not self-evident.

¶ “Kaufman was very much an artist of his time. From all the rooms he saw, for whatever reason, he developed an ideal one and based it on the overall artistic impression, like his colleague Jost Schiffmann in Salzburg. He created an imagined platform, as Schubiger described the period rooms around 1900: in a suggestive production, living becomes a media event and room an unused display object, an empty space.”17

¶ Looking at and being in the total installation, western Jews were presented with the everyday life of their eastern ancestors and contemporaries, as well as the reconstruction by objects of the ritual of keeping the Sabbath. It was the experience of the directness of objects, i.e. the use of the self-evident as a museum tool, whose contemporary invalidity was referred to by Felicitas Heimann-Jelinek in her previously quoted sentence. After the closure, the appropriation, theft and disappearance of the Museum in Malzgasse, which existed between 1911 and 1938, the presentation of Judaica, i.e. objects which have meaning in themselves, has not been suitable for the purposes of Jewish museology, because after 1944 they did not remain individual elements of Kaufmann’s nostalgic paintings and his “period room”, but became the representation of a mistaken and false illusion. They exist in opposition to the historical truth independently of their literal genuineness and their exhibitors’ indisputable well-meaning. After all, unintentionally they are forgeries. The fundamental issue for Jewish museology is the joint presence of its evident commitment to Judaism and the inevitable reflection on Judaica, i.e. on the existence of the Holocaust-created abyss that cannot be ignored and which exists, and the meaning of object culture.18

¶ This abyss can be penetrated by the eerie adaptation of Die Gute Stube, created by a contemporary Israeli artist, Maya Zack, with fascinating precision, awareness and sensory force. It has a particularly important role in an important room (Stadt Immigrantinnen und Wien um 1900) of the new permanent exhibition the Unsere Stadt’ Jüdisches Wien bis heute’, which opened in 2013. The four digital paintings exhibited as an independent installation, which give the impression of black and white photographs depicting the virtual space, create the history, collapse and consequent life of the illusion of ahistorical permanence with unprecedented force. The installation, which reconstructs the former period room on the basis of photographs, demonstrates the issue of abyss with dramatic force and has the image of the glass cabinet on the third floor of the museum displaying ten surviving objects, which turned up in the Viennese Museum of Ethnography after the war, inserted in the virtual (3D) space that recreates the original. The second image recalls the first version of Die Gute Stube, which was presented at the International Exhibition of Hygiene held in Dresden’s Museum of Hygiene in 1911. The third reconstructs Isidor Kaufman’s studio with poetic imagination, taken in Daguerre’s own studio and inserting the collection of plaster copies in the picture. The fourth work (Mystical Shabbat) provides the recollection of the spiritual experience of western Jews as presumed and hoped for by Kaufmann. The recollection of the former illusion and its impossibility is thus the aesthetic fundamental problem of the conceptual installation. And it is a fact that this island creates some contradiction in the permanent collection, since according to the careful critical spirit of historical Judaica hundreds of original objects can be seen close by, whose physical existence allows the visitor to step out from the traumatic perception of the post-Holocaust paradigm. That is, the apparently short current history of the museum has not merely presented the experience of eeriness, but has itself become eerie.The situation today is that visitors can see only parts and traces of the museum’s period between 1993 and 2010 when in the concept of the museum, Judaica, the presentation of ritual and historical objects, and the history of the Holocaust, i.e. a certain kind of essentialist and immanent Jewish narrative and its critical self-reflexion, that is the representational traps of the discontinuity of traumatic history, were inseparable from one another. They kept permeating it and strongly influenced one another. Thus the permanent exhibitions, which opened in 1996, and the series of museum spaces were arranged accordingly. The aforementioned first temporary exhibition, Hier hat Teitelbaum gewohnt, already corresponded to the reconstruction of contexts, i.e. to the approach involving eeriness for critical reservation.

¶ At the same time, Felicitas Heimann-Jelinek’s truly radical permanent exhibition, which Matti Bunzl called an “anti-exhibition” with reason, did not present objects but their holograms, i.e. the emptiness of the exhibition space was as remarkable as it was thought-provoking in its technology evoking illusion and sensory disappointment, creating virtual spaces with the holograms and forcing the viewer towards activity and movement, in which the static character of vanished objects and works of art, i.e. the concept of viewpoint, lost sense and meaning. Making Judaic objects virtual precisely corresponded to the fundamental issue of post-Holocaust Jewish museology: the crisis or search in connection with the presentation of Jewish identity, which irrevocably broke down and lost its evidence.

¶ It seems to me that Heimann-Jelinek’s attitude cannot be misunderstood, but what I am writing is obviously a further interpretation of an interpretation. Yet the question indeed is whether the Holocaust is considered a tragic, i.e. horrible chapter of Jewish history from the perspective of Judaism, or it is presumed that it irrevocably rewrote public thinking about Jewry because its memory traces are present at every moment and every phase, and in this respect it does not matter at all whether Jews or, so to say, “non Jews” talk about Jews, because the universal nature of what happened is indisputable. The replacement of objects with holograms cannot be indeed interpreted differently than a technique of continuously enforcing the historical reflection related to everyone. But why was all this unavoidable? The answer is connected with the mission of the museum and determining its target audience. The eerie holograms, which were on the borderline of visibility and non-visibility and were in an almost obscure relationship with colours and spaces were suitable for “non-Jewish” visitors not to feel a distance between Judaism and their own world and for them to be able to understand the community of homelessness. Thus the  universality of the Holocaust, the experience created by the museum, signalled its inevitability.19 All this coincided with the way of presentation of Judaica, objects which were deprived of their individuality and privilege by the Holocaust – the ritual meaning and horrified death, the hero of Viktor Ullmann’s opera are present simultaneously. Nor can the opera, which was performed in Theresienstadt, The Emperor of Atlantis, involving death unable to cope with the pace dictated by the Nazis, be separated from the scene of its performance.20

¶ The dismantling (under scandalous circumstances according to different reports) of the room displaying the holograms and its replacement with the new permanent exhibition, however, does not mean that the pre-2010 period would have ceased to fully exist, since its traces can be seen in the room applying the principles of an open storage (Schaudepot) on the third floor. The curator’s attitude regarding the original objects can be demonstrated by two still visible examples. On the one hand, the presentation of the Schlaff Collection, the compilation of ceramics consisting of anti-Semitic caricature, must be recalled. According to the principle of open storage, each of the several dozens of statuettes has been displayed in the cabinets, however with their back to the viewer so that their front can be seen in the mirror behind them. The language is truly scanty so any comment or description of the effect mechanism seems nonsensical. We know only a few self-evident examples of museum interpretation beginning when its description is merely a scanty and awkward translation.

¶ The other example points at the significance of the history of the objects. A cardboard box with personal effects with a clear-cut inscription “Dr. Franz und Anna Bial /am 27 Mai 1942 abtransportiert/” was moved from the storeroom of the IKG to the collection of the museum in 1992. The couple were executed in Minsk on 27 May 1942. Their daughter Lilly Bial, who was born in 1926, went to England with a children’s transport in 1939. For decades she did not have any connection with her childhood and Vienna, hence she did not know about the objects displayed in the museum, which were meant to reach her. As it turned out from the website of AJR (Association of Jewish Refugees), Lilly Bial was out of reach for years. “A Kindertransportee to UK in 1939 at age of around 13, worked as nurse in Bexley Heath before 1960s. No trace of her since then. The Jüdisches Museum Wien still retains some possessions of hers and would like to return these to her or to her heirs. Any information, please contact Austrian Embassy, London.” Finally the Swiss essayist Katharina Geiser traced Lilly Bial and received a reply to her letter. “Yes, I am Lilli Bial and my parents were Anni and Franz Bial. I arrived in England on the 27th of April 1939 and lived at Bexleyheath for nearly 10 years. I then moved to Dorking, in Surrey and finally arrived in…”21 In the end she saw her legacy at the age of 78 and left most of it to the Jewish Museum.

¶ All in all, the Viennese situation still seems favourable. At worst the Jewish Museum in Vienna made only half a turn and although the new exhibition is a step backwards compared to the original, truly avant-garde strategy, within this framework the present situation can also be evaluated, several superb temporary exhibitions explore the issue of Jewish cultural existence, as for example, the rather innovative exhibition about women artists in the autumn of 2016.22 And there is the monument on Judenplatz, the inside-out library in commemoration of 65,000 Austrian Jews who were killed, designed by Rachel Whiteread and erected in 2000. Jewish culture after all is returning to Vienna. The necessary sum for the restoration of the recently discovered and to be quickly preserved silent film Stadt ohne Juden of 1924 was gathered by public subscription and indeed the fate of the film became the object of public attention.

¶ Our heart can be gripped if meanwhile we think of our own city. There is still no public Holocaust monument in Budapest, either Denkmal or Mahnmal. There is no space for remembrance or joint thinking. What exists is the political nightmare of the kitschy angel erected in Szabadság Square. The Holocaust Museum drifts from one crisis to another in an absurd location outside the former ghetto. The foundation and the threateningly empty building of the House of Fates museum, which has been left unfinished, is an involuntary monument of the catastrophe of Hungarian remembrance politics. The museum to be established in place of that, in the synagogue designed by Otto Wagner in Rumbach Sebestyén Street, is far from reality. It is perhaps only the Jewish Museum which seems to carefully follow the Viennese example. The new permanent exhibition 100 Objects is really clever and wisely self-reflective, balancing between historical documents and Judaica which can be interpreted as such. It takes a stand concerning the real issue in no uncertain terms: Jewry has survived a horrible episode of its history, the Holocaust. I cannot and in fact I have no right to take a stand in all this, but still I am inclined to take the relevant part of Occidental Eschatology by Jacob Taubes seriously “Precisely because man is the shadow of God he is able to succumb to this idea and, more crucially, to succeed in making himself into the measure of all things. The shadow is the serpent beguiling man into misrecognizing himself as god-like… ultimately as God – and God as only a shadow of himself.”23 And yet both happened with the Jews and the Christians. The possibilities and tasks of Jewish museology are defined by its traces.

[1] Cf. Joanne Morra, ‘Seemingly Empty: Freud at Berggasse 19. A Conceptual Museum in Vienna’, Journal of Visual Culture, 2013, vol. 12, 1, pp. 89-127.

[2] “What remains after Auschwitz, is antisemitism, because of Auschwitz” […] “The Germans will never forgive us for Auschwitz”. Kurt Grünberg, Love after Auschwitz: The Second Generation in Germany. Jewish of Survivors of the Nazi Persecution in the Federal Republic of Germany, 2006, transcript Verlag, Bielefeld p. 67, and Henryk Broder, Der ewige Antisemit. Über Sinn und Funktion eines beständigen.

[3] Lisa Silverman, ‘Repossessing the Past? Property, Memory and Austrian Jewish Narrative Histories’, Austrian Studies, Col. 11, ‘Hitler’s First Victim?’ Memory and Representation in Post-War Austria, 2003, pp. 138-153.

[4] Gustav Jellinek: Heinz P. Wassermann, ed. Antisemitismus in Österreich nach 1945: Ergebnisse, Positionen und Perspektiven der Forschung, Innsbruck, Studien Verlag, 2002.

‘Die Geschichte der Österreichischen Wiedergutmachung’, in: The Jews of Austria, Essays on their Life, History and Destruction, edited by Josef Fraenkel, London, Vallentine, Mitchell, 1967, pp. 395-426.

“After all, during the first decades of Austria’s Second Republic, the state and its various apparatuses had gone to great lengths to bar Jews from the country’s public sphere. As embodied critics of Austria’s victim myth, Jews threatened to undermine the postwar nation-state, necessitating their structural exclusion from the imagined community. Austria’ s Jews continued to figure in opposition to the country’s fiction of collective victimization, but by the late 1990s, this no longer represented an impediment to their inte-gration into the national sphere.” Matti Bunzl, Symptoms of Modernity, Jews and Queers in Late-Twentieth-Century Vienna, University of California Press, 1999, pp. 157-158.

[5] The exhibition Die Couch, Vom Denken im Liegen held on the anniversary of Freud’s 150th birthday in Vienna in 2006. It was one of Lydia Marinelli’s last works, a fascinating example of creating a conceptual exhibition, a radical and minimalist concept, which is impossible to forget. The place of remembrance, the lack of personal effects and the work of recalling Freud’s activity, i.e. the memories, all created a complicated pattern as with the Oriental rug itself in London, a virtual version of which was one of the elements of the concept.

[6] Cf. Joanne Morra, op. cit., p. 97.

[7] Cf. Péter György, ‘Oidipusz Kolonoszban, Freud (múzeum) száműzetésben (A cancelled German, a German Jew)’, in: A hely szelleme, Magvető, Budapest, 2007, pp. 79-98.

[8] Edmund Engelman, Sigmund Freud: Berggasse 19, Vienna, 1998, Universe, London. In March 2003 one of the exhibitions in the reopened Albertina presented Robert Longo’s drawings based on Engelman’s photographs with the title Freud Cycle.

[9] In 1968 the museum consisted of one part of flat No. 6, then in 1971 at the time of Anna Freud’s visit to Vienna the museum occupied the whole flat. Flat No. 5 has been used as part of the museum since 1986.

[10] Lydia Marinelli, ‘“Body Missing” at Berggasse 19’, American Imago, Vol. 66, No. 2, Summer, 2009, pp. 161-167.

[11] Two exhibitions showing an identical pattern present a good example of the parallellism. The exhibition Hier hat Teitelbaum gewohnt, Ein Gang durch das jüdische Wien in Zeit und Raum was held in 1993-1994 which – visibly so many years later – corresponded to Felicitás Heimann-Jelinek’s conceptual, intermedial, critical methodology. The objects of the exhibition reconstructing the chronotopos of disappeared lives were displayed as documents of a strong concept corresponding to the reconstruction of Vienna interpreted as the city of western, assimilated Jews. Simultaneously with the opening of the Albertina, the exhibition Freuds verschwundene Nachbarn staged in the Freud Museum between March and September 2003 reconstructed the story of the other residents of 19 Berggasse, who were killed. The exhibition of the Jewish Museum in Budapest, Rosenthal Lived Here pays tribute to Hier hat Teitelbaum gewohnt and at the same time is a variation of it.

[12] Reese Greenberg, ‘The holographic  Paradigm for the History and the Holocaust’, p. 14, in: Image and Remembrance: Representation and the Holocaust, ed. Shelly Hornstein, Florence Jacobowitz.

[13] Matti Bunzl: ‘Of Holograms and Storage Areas: Modernity and Postmodernity at Vienna’s Jewish Museum’, Cultural Anthropology, 2003, Vol. 18, No. 4, pp. 345-368.

[14] “The non-racial statement” about Judaism conformed with the socio-political aspirations of the members of the Museum Society. They sought to integrate into and acculturate to the society at large and to gain full social acceptance, all the prevalent anti-Semitic notions of the Jews’ racially determined incapacity to become equal citizens notwithstanding.” Klaus Höld, ‘The Turning to History of Viennese Jews’, Journal of Modern Jewish Studies, 3.1.2004, pp. 17-32.

[15] Cf. Veronika Lipphardt, ‘Isolates and Crosses in Human Population Genetics, or a Contextualization of German Race Science’, Current Anthropology, No. 53. S5, 2012, pp. 69-82.

[16] Werner Hanak-Lettner, ‘From Kaufmann’s Gute Stube to Zack’s The Shabbat Room, Two Period Rooms from Jablonov to Vienna and Tel Aviv’, in: Maya Zack, The Shabbat Room, Herausgegeben von Daniella Spera und Werner Hanak-Lettner im Auftrag des Jüdischen Museums Wien, p. 16.

[17] Ibid., p. 22.

[18] Here I can only make a mention of the period rooms created by Josef Polak in Prague’s Jewish Museum. The museum, which was also closed down immediately after the German occupation, was redefined by the Nazis in 1942 and the institution called the Central Jewish Museum had a double function. Partly it stored the Judaica gathered from the synagogues of the Czech-Moravian Protectorate (see the concept of the Schaudepot in the Jewish Museum, Vienna), and partly it had non-public exhibitions staged, whose designers in the main did not survive the war. The total installations of a Jewish kitchen and living room in the Klausen Jewish Museum remained in the Jewish Museum, which reopened after the war. (The fate of the Jewish Museum in Prague demands a separate study and I am afraid that the approximately satisfactory recollection of the bibliography far exceeds the present framework.) Cf. The Man Who Never Gave Up, Zidovske Muzeum v. Praze, 2005. Text by Magda Veselska. Cf. ‘A Prágai Zsidó Múzeum (Prague’s Jewish Museum)’, Európai Utas, 2007/1, pp. 43-46, and Hana Volavkova, A Story of the Jewish Museum in Prague, Artia, Prague, 1968.

[19] After 1938 the Naturhistorische Museum in Vienna ordered plaster masks from the Posen concentration camp for its exhibition about anthropology, i.e. races. In 1987 when this horrible collection finally became public it was exhibited in Buchenwald where the majority of the subjects of the masks were killed. At the same time, the Naturhistorisches Museum’s masks got to the Jüdisches Museum in a strongly disputable way, where they were presented at the exhibition Masken, Versuch über die Schoa in 1997. According to Heimann-Jelinek’s medial concept, they were not displayed simply and in their defencelessness, but in the context of a live video recording of visitors and masks together, which presented a real challenge for the viewers. “The exhibition focuses on the human dignity and the relativity of ethical standards. It is an attempt to bring up what the shoah was in the end: just villain murder. Moreover it is an attempt examine our own attitude toward these murders, towards the objects of these murders: they are ‘specimens’ having been human beings once”. (catalogue text)

[20] The issue of concentration camps and ghettos, as well as collections and museums maintained or accepted by the Nazis and works that were created there, point at the fact that the Holocaust cannot be separated and detached from Jewish museology. A contemporary Hungarian example well represents the complexity of the situation. In his writing Zsidóság és emlékezés, Kortárs múzeumok Közép-Európában (Jewry and Remembrance, Contemporary Museums in Central Europe) Rudolf Klein argues against establishing Jewish historical sparkling and glittering Disneylands. He mentions the change of directors in Vienna in this context: “The content and character of Jewish museums changed clearly at the beginning of the 21st century. It was probably embodied most crudely in the incident in Vienna in 2010. The mayor was dissatisfied with the thought-provoking, very original exhibition which could be interpreted in several ways and with the highly qualified chief curator of vision who staged it. Instead he replaced her with a journalist who looked good on TV…” Independently of the fact that the conditions of Felicitas Heimann-Jelinek’s removal were in all probability scandalous, in the given case it was an anti-exhibition and not an exhibition, rather its overwriting. And when Klein remarks resignedly at the end of his article “by today Jewish museums and remembrance have turned into a colourful bustle – there is an attempt to present culture that was formerly based on words with a deluge of images, colours and light effects” he criticizes Heimann-Jelinek’s concept of museology, even if unwillingly but quite obviously. (Szombat, 2016, November, XXIII, Vol. 9, pp. 22-27) Indeed, Jewish museums, their installations and architectural solutions at the beginning of the 21st century all bear the mark of the crisis that is signified by the state of the post-Holocaust world and from which there is no return to the presentation of self-evident Judaica, because that would be nothing other than an exact echo of ‘Die Gute Stube’,  i.e. making it a museum.

[21] Katharina Geiser, Vorübergehend Wien, Paul Zsolnay Verlag, 2006, Wien, p. 271, and “ … Lilly Bial eruiert und die Schachtlel in der Folge durch VertererInnen des Jüdischen Museums Wien an sie übergeben werden. Bias beschloss einige Dinge zu behalten, den Grossteil der Objekte samt Schachtel aber dem Museum zu überlassen. Dies macht das museale Erbe leichter, relativiert jedoch nicht die Schwierigkeit des Umgangs mit Erinnerung. Felicitas Heimann-Jelinek, ‘Anna, Franz und Lill Bial’, in: Recollecting, Raub und Restitution, ed. Alexandra Reiningaus, 2009. (The exhibition was staged in MAK between 3 March 2008 and 15 February 2009.)

[22] Die Bessere hälfte, Jüdische Künstlerinnen bis 1938. November 2016 – May 2017.

[23] Jacob Taubes, Occidental Eschatology, tr. David Ratmoko, Stanford University Press, 2009, p. 212.