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Rich images, before the Holocaust

November 05, 2005|From Reuters

BERLIN — Germany's thriving prewar Jewish community as captured in black-and-white photographs went on display in Berlin's Jewish Museum on Friday with an exhibit of 90 stirring images by photographer Roman Vishniac.

The portraits of lively street scenes, artists and intellectuals in Berlin, taken just before the Holocaust, recall a vibrant Jewish culture in the German capital. The previously unpublished pictures were found after Vishniac died in 1990.

Jewish culture flourished in Berlin before the Nazis took power: It was one of the world's 10 largest Jewish centers and many of Germany's top scientists, such as Albert Einstein, were Berlin Jews. There were about 160,000 Jews in Berlin in 1933, but only 1,400 in 1945.

"These photos show a city where everyone was involved in culture, art, politics and philosophy," said Sarah Kushinsky, 25, whose grandfather was sent to a concentration camp but survived and later immigrated to Australia.

"They show the Jewish culture at its peak before the crash," said Kushinsky, who is a student in Switzerland and went to the exhibit's opening Friday with her grandfather. "I don't think there will ever be anywhere like Berlin was then again."

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