ADOLF KOHN - Painter of the Prague Ghetto
Last year the Jewish Museum in Prague put together an exhibition of
paintings of the Prague ghetto by Adolf Kohn. The opening was originally
planned for 14 August 2002 but this was set back by the August floods.
It was necessary to take down the exhibition immediately and to move
the paintings to the Museum’s upper floor rooms. Due to floodingin the
basement area of the Robert Guttmann Gallery, including the technical
facilities for the air-conditioning units, the exhibition could not
be opened until conditions in the reconstructed gallery had been restored
to an extent that met the strict requirements for the display of rare
artworks. The opening finally took place on 26 June 2003. It was curated
by Dr. Arno Pařík and ran until the end of September 2003.
It is now a century since Adolf Kohn (1868-1953) began painting his
small pictures of the vanishing Jewish Town during the clearance of
the Prague ghetto. In them he tried to capture the atmosphere of the
picturesque corners of the ghetto, where he was born, raised and spent
his entire life. He continued to paint and, later on, made a remarkable
amount of paintings based on his memories, period photographs and his
early pictures. Relatively few of his works, however, have been preserved
and the name of this artist remains virtually unknown to this day. Although
painting was mainly a hobby for Adolf Kohn, it did give him a modest
means of income, for he used to sell his pictures to neighbours, residents
of the town, booksellers and visitors to Josefov.
exhibition was the first independent display of artworks by Adolf Kohn.
In total, there were about 120 paintings exhibited, mostly from the
collect-ions of the Jewish Museum in Prague, together with loans from
the National Museum in Prague, the City of Prague Museum and private
collectors. Visitors were given their first ever opportunity to compare
Kohn’s works dating from various periods and showing different views
of the hidden corners of the Jewish Town and to appreciate their distinctive
exhibition is accompanied by a catalogue (in English and Czech), which
includes over 100 full-colour reproductions and a list of his major
works. This can be ordered from the Museum’s address, by email:
or online at: www.jewishmuseum.cz/shop/ashop.htm
MUSEUM LIBRARY CATALOGUE
ON THE INTERNET
The Museum’s Aleph library catalogue has been available on its website
since April 2003. Of the total number of books in the library collection
(about 100,000), almost 20,000 have been listed in the catalogue so
far. This includes all new acquisitions, books on the Holocaust and
the Second World War and publications kept at the Museum’s Education
and Culture Centre. Earlier literature is being continually added to
the catalogue as part of a re-cataloguing of the collection.
As well as having the opportunity to search online
for records of documents from the library collection, registered library
users are also able to extend loans, order documents from the library
depositories for a specific time or reserve books that are out on loan.
The catalogue can be accessed at:www.jewishmuseum.cz/english/alibrary.htm
TRAVELLING EXHIBITIONS ON JEWISH HISTORY
AND TRADITIONS IN THE DĚČÍN SYNAGOGUE
In the north Bohemian town of Děčín is one of the few synagogues in
the Czech border region to have survived the Nazi rampages during the
war. It is being gradually restored by the local Jewish community, which
also uses it as a venue for various cultural programmes, in particular
exhibitions and concerts. On 16 July 2003, two travelling exhibitions
– Jewish Traditions and Customs and History of the Jews in Bohemia and
Moravia – opened in the Děčín Synagogue. Both were prepared by the Jewish
Museum in Prague in an attempt to cater as much as possible to the widespread
interest that has been expressed in this theme by many museums and cultural
institutions throughout the country (see Newsletter
1/2003). The curator is Arno Pařík , an art historian and authority
on the history of synagogue architecture who focuses his research on
Jewish art and Jewish artists living in Bohemia and Moravia.
Each exhibition consists of twelve wall panels which
combine text and pictorial information in an attractive graphic presentation.
By viewing illustrations of ritual, historic and artistic objects and
documents, visitors have an opportunity to become acquainted with the
fundamentals of Judaism and the main Jewish festivals and events in
Jewish history. The exhibitions here also feature a group of ritual
objects related to certain Jewish communities in north Bohemia, in particular
Teplice, Děčín and Česka Lípa. Many of the exhibits also document the
contemporary life of local Jewish communities. The items are being exhibited
in display cases that have been donated to the Děčín Synagogue by the
Jewish Museum in Prague.
The exhibitions are complemented by a large group
of artworks by Josef Císařovský, which are on display in the synagogue
gallery. Most of the paintings are inspired by the Jewish cemetery in
Hostouň, Central Bohemia, from where the artist comes. This project
was prepared for the European Day of Jewish Culture.
RENOVATION OF THE ÚŠTĚk SYNAGOGUE
September 2003 saw the completion of a ten-year renovation project at
the Úštěk Synagogue, which was organised by the Federation of Jewish
Commu-nities in the Czech Republic. A permanent exhibition comprising
two parts is currently being installed here. The first part will feature
the building’s original appurtenances and decoration which have been
reconstructed, together with exhibits from the Jewish Museum in Prague
and several panels containing basic information on the history of the
synagogue and the Úštěk Jewish community. The second part will provide
an untraditional view of the history and organisation of Jewish education
in Bohemia, as well as of prominent teachers and rabbis. In this way
the Úštěk Synagogue will create the atmosphere of an authentic Jewish
school – a heder, which, according to local sources, was based here
from 1851 onwards.
This important Jewish monument has been rescued largely
thanks to support from the Regeneration of City Heritage Zones programme
and a contribution from the International Fund for the Help of Holocaust
Victims. The permanent exhibition was put together thanks to the help
of the Jewish Museum in Prague and its Foundation.
EUROPEAN DAY OF JEWISH CULTURE 2003
As it does every year, the Museum once again took part in the events
connected with the European Day of Jewish Culture (held on 7 September
2003). This year the Museum provided free access to the Jewish cemetery
in Žižkov and gave lectures at the Education and Culture Centre – Arno
Pařík : “The Prague Globetrotter” (about Robert Guttmann) and Michaela
Hájková: “The Jewish Presence in Contemporary Visual Art”.
DONATION OF 69 ORIGINAL DRAWINGS
BY EMIL ORLIk The Museum has acquired a set of 69 original
drawings by the important Jewish graphic artist and painter, Emil Orlik
, a native of Prague. These are portrait sketches of the participants
of the March 1918 peace conference in Brest, Lithuania, where Emil Orlik
was sent as a reporter. Among those portrayed are many important political
figures of the day, aristocrats, diplomats and military leaders (such
as the chief negotiator for Austria-Hungary Count Ottokar Czernin, Prince
Leopold of Bavaria, the chief negotiator for Germany Richard von Kühlmann,
the Chief Admiral of Turkey Hussein Raouf Bey).
Orlik later used these precise sketches, drawn in
pencil and black chalk , as a basis for lithographic portraits. His
lithographs, which are more like caricatures than realistic portraits,
were printed in an album entitled “Brest-Litovsk 1918”.
The set of drawings from the Orlik estate were generously
donated to the Museum by the artist’s niece Anita Bollag from North
Caldwell, New Jersey. This was arranged via the Project Judaica Foun-
dation, which is run by a long-term supporter of the Museum Mark Talisman,
and with the help of another long-term friend of our institution, Rabbi
Norman R. Patz, Chairman of the Society for the History of Czechoslovak
Jews. Some of the drawings will be on show at an exhibition of Orlik
portraits that the Museum will be presenting to the public at the beginning
of next year.
This donation significantly enriches the large collection
of Orlik s works in the Museum’s collection and is of particular importance
as a unique historical document.
ENCYCLOPAEDIA OF JEWISH COMMUNITIES, SETTLEMENTS AND MEMORIAL SITES
IN THE CZECH REPUBLIC
Despite growing public interest, the history of the Jewish community
of Bohemia and Moravia is still being documented in a fragmentary way;
often, the only available material for those interested in this topic
are pre-war publications and specific articles which are being supplemented
only gradually by more recent research. In an attempt to satisfy the
needs of many inquirers, the Museum has decided to gradually publish
on its website the “Encyclopaedia of Jewish Communities, Settlements
and Memorial Sites in the Czech Republic.” This work is being put together
by Museum employee Jiří Fiedler on the basis of his private archive.
It is the result of more than thirty years’ work that Mr. Fiedler has
carried out in various localities, archives and libraries, which formed
the basis of his earlier book Jewish Sites in Bohemia and Mora-via (published
by Sefer, 1992; English version 1991). The encyclopaedia entries, which
are gradually being made accessible in electronic form, are, however,
far more extensive and detailed.
At present, about a fifth of the total number of
encyclopaedia entries (of which there will be several thousand) have
been completed. Photographic documents from the Museum’s archive are
either attached to the entries or can be ordered separately.
Individual entries can be purchased via the Museum’s website at www.jewishmuseum.cz.
To get an idea as to the content of the entries, you can look up five
HANA’S SMALL SUITCASE
The story of a girl who did not return
With the support of the Jewish Museum in Prague, the publishing house
Portál has published a remarkable real-life story of a Jewish girl from
Moravia, Hana Brady, who died in the Auschwitz extermination camp. Her
story was reconstructed by Fumiko Ishioka, the founder of the Tokyo
centre for the study of the Holocaust, where, in 2000, a discovery was
made of a small suitcase belonging to Hana Brady, which bore the inscription:
Hanna Brady, 16. 5. 1931, orphan. The Czech edition includes an introduction
written by Hana’s brother Jiří Brady, who is now living in Canada. The
book is intended for teachers of elementary schools as a supplement
to history lessons and for anyone interested in Second World War memoirs.
It can be ordered from the Museum’s address, by email:
or online at www.jewishmuseum.cz/shop/ashop.htm
Jorge Telerman, Culture Secretary, Municipal Assembly of Buenos Aires,
Peter A. Rafaeli, Honorary Consul of the Czech Republic in Philadelphia,
Deborah Lipstadt, USA
Douglas Greenberg, President of the foundation Survivors of the Shoah,