Museum professionals in support of Professor Peter Schäfer and the Jewish Museum Berlin
As museum directors, curators and professionals working for Jewish and non-Jewish Museums we wish to express our concern at the attacks levelled towards our colleague Professor Peter Schäfer which have led to him stepping down from his role as Director of the Jewish Museum Berlin.

Schäfer’s resignation is the culmination of a lengthy campaign in the German media to discredit the important work the museum has been delivering through its world-class public programmes and exhibitions. This public facing work has created platforms on which a multiplicity of voices can be heard and critically engaged with and it is now more needed than ever.

Schäfer is a man of great integrity and an internationally renowned scholar who has made invaluable contributions to the field of Jewish Studies. We are appalled by the outrageous personal and professional attacks to which he has been subjected. We totally refute public accusations which have tried to smear the Jewish Museum Berlin as ‘anti-Jewish’ or ‘non-Jewish’ under his leadership.

These baseless claims fails to recognise the many critically acclaimed exhibitions the museum produced during Schäfer’s tenure which deeply engaged with a wide range of urgent and underexplored topics in Jewish studies, including Jewish mysticism, contemporary attitudes towards circumcision, the role of Jewish ritual objects in mediating memory and the life cycle, and the experiences of Displaced Persons after the war. These exhibitions and their accompanying programmes broadened perspectives and provided important space for inter-cultural dialogue and public discussion.

We see Schäfer’s departure as an alarming example of the shutting down of debate which threatens the core purpose of museums and is in firm opposition to the Jewish tradition which embraces intellectual enquiry and constructive argumentation (makhloket). This episode is part of a broader, worrying trend which sees the independence of universities, museums and cultural institutions severely compromised by routine interference from governments and campaign bodies throughout the world. As museum professionals we are extremely concerned about what this means for the future of our sector.

In the aftermath of Schäfer’s departure from the post of Director, we call on the German Culture Ministry and the Board of the Jewish Museum to protect the institution from public smears and attacks, and ensure that the staff are supported to continue their excellent work in an environment that is free from external interference.

In Deutsch:


Dr Karen Adler, Former member, ICOM UK Executive board, GB

Jack Arbib Chairman, U.Nahon Museum of Italian Jewish Art, Israel

Dr. Ilsebill Barta, former Director, Hofmobiliendepot/Imperial Furniture Collection, Vienna, Austria

Dr. Sylvia Battegay, Events & Communication, Jewish Museum of Switzerland, Switzerland

Ms Zanet Battinou, Director, The Jewish Museum of Greece, Greece

Hetty Berg, Chief Curator, Manager Museum Affairs, Jewish Cultural Quarter, Amsterdam, Netherlands

Monika Berthold-Hilpert, Curator, Jewish Museum Franconia Fuerth, Schnaittach & Schwabach, Germany

Emily Bilski, Independent curator, Israel and USA

Mag Eva Blimlinger, Rector, Academy of Fine Arts Vienna, Austria

Dr Maroš Borský, Director, Jewish Community Museum, Bratislava, Slovakia

Nawojka Cieślińska-Lobkowicz, Independent art historian, Poland/Germany

Julie-Marthe Cohen, Curator of cultural history, Jewish Historical Museum, Amsterdam, Netherlands

Jutta Dick, Director, Moses-Mendelssohn-Academy and Berend Lehmann Museum in Halberstadt, Germany

Mar Dixon, Founder, @MarDixon, United Kingdom

Daniel Dratwa, Founding Curator of the Jewish Museum of Belgium (Retired), Belgium

Dinah Ehrenfreund, Researcher/Educator, Jewish Museum of Switzerland/Jewish Museum Hohenems, Switzerland/Austria

Daniela F. Eisenstein, Director, The Jewish Museum Franconia - Fürth, Schnaittach & Schwabach, Germany

Ms Torla Evans, Retired Principal Photographer, Museum of London, United Kingdom

Ms Sarah Fairhurst, Interpretation Manager, English Heritage, Former Curator at the Jewish Military Museum, United Kingdom

Dr Pascale Falek, Director, Jewish Museum of Belgium, Belgium

Sabine Fauland, CEO, Austria Museums Association, Austria

Dr. Michaela Feurstein-Prasser, Curator,, Vienna, Austria

Joanna Fikus, Head of Exhibition Department, Museum of the History of Polish Jews POLIN, Poland

Jutta Fleckenstein, Curator, Jewish Museum Munich, Germany

Karen Franklin, Independent Curator, USA

Dr. Anna Gabor, Independent curator, former curator of Hungarian Jewish Museum, Hungary

Mr David Glasser, Chair, Ben Uri Gallery and Museum, UK

Dr. Sandra Gogel, Director, Gogel Family Judaica Collection, Paris, France

Reesa Greenberg, Art Historian, Canada

Dr. Werner Hanak, Deputy Director, Jewish Museum Frankfurt, Germany

Lilian Harlander, Curator of the Collections, Jewish Museum Munich, Germany

Sarah Harel Hoshen, Curator and Retired Head of Exhibitions, Museum of the Jewish People, Tel Aviv, Israel and Jewish Museum London

Ulrike Heikaus, Curator, Jewish Museum Munich, Germany

Dr Felicitas Heimann-Jelinek, Independent curator, Austria

Prof. Shelley Hornstein, Architectural History & Visual Culture, York University, Toronto, Canada

M.A. Ernestine Kahn, Dialogue Director/Coach, USA/Germany

Martha Keil, Director, Institute of Jewish History in Austria, Austria

Professor Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett, Chief Curator, Core Exhibition, POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews, Poland

Christian Klösch, Provenance Research, Technisches Museum Wien, Austria

Mirjam Knotter, Curator, Jewish Historical Museum Amsterdam, Netherlands

Lucja Koch, Head of Education Dept., Polin Museum of the History of Polish Jews, Poland

Gottfried Kößler, Deputy Director, Fritz Bauer Institut / Education Paedagogisches Zenrum des Fritz Bauer Intituts und des Juedischen Museums Frankfurt, Germany

Sabine Kößling, Head of Exhibtions, Jewish Museum Frankfurt, Germany

Eva Koppen, ProMu Cultural Projects, the Netherlands

Tomasz Kuncewicz, Director, Auschwitz Jewish Center, Poland

Prof. Gerhard Langer, Professor for Jewish Studies at the Institut für Judaistik (Department of Jewish Studies), University of Vienna, Austria

Michael Lenarz, Deputy Director, Jewish Museum Frankfurt, Germany

Boaz Levin, Independent curator, Berlin, Germany

Dr Hanno Loewy, Director, Jewish Museum Hohenems, Austria

Dr. Naomi Lubrich, Director, Jewish Museum of Switzerland, Switzerland

Mrs Dagmara Mańka-Wizor, Chief Education Specialist, Museum of the History of Polish Jews, Poland

Christina Meri, Curator of Collections, Jewish Museum of Greece, Greece

Mag. Gerhard Milchram, Curator, Wien Museum, Austria

Abigail Morris, Director, Jewish Museum London, United Kingdom

Dr. Roswitha Muttenthaler, Independent museologist, Former curator Technisches Museum Wien, Austria

Dr Sylvia Necker, Curator / Historian // and Director (from August 2019 onwards), Museum of Prussia in Minden, Germany

Mag. Judith Niederklopfer-Würtinger, Education, Jüdisches Museum Hohenems, Austria

Thomas Otten, Director of MiQua. LVR-Jewish Museum in the Archaeological Quarter Cologne, Germany

Vidar Alne Paulsen, Head of Education, Oslo Jewish Museum, Norway

Professor Ruth Phillips, Former director, University of British Columbia Museum of Anthropology, Canada

Dr Kathrin Pieren, Collections manager and curator, Jewish Museum London, UK

Bernhard Purin MA, Director, Jewish Museum Munich, Germany

Dr. Norbert Reichling, Director, Jewish Museum Westphalia, Germany

Dr Anika Reichwald, Head of Archive and Collections, Jewish Museum Hohenems, Austria

Mag. Johannes Reiss, Director, Austrian Jewish Museum, Eisenstadt, Austria

Gideon Reuveni, Center for German-jewish studies, University of Sussex, UK

Joanne Rosenthal, Independent curator and former Chief Curator of Jewish Museum London, UK

Professor Joachim Schlör, Professor of modern Jewish/non-Jewish relations, University of Southampton, UK

Dr Daniela Schmid, Researcher, Private Collection, Austria

Prof Dr Benigna Schönhagen, Institut für Geschichtliche Landeskunde und Historische Hilfswissenschaften, University of Tübingen, Germany (retired Director, Jüdisches Kulturmuseum Augsburg)

Dr. Ulrike Schrader, Leierten Begegnungsstätte, Alte Synagoge, Wuppertal, Begegnungsstätte Alte Synagoge, Wuppertal, Germany

Dr Wieland Schulz-Keil, Film Producer, Germany

Professor Lynne Segal, Writer and academic, UK

Zahava Seewald, Chief curator, Jewish Museum of Belgium, Belgium

Elizabeth Selby, Director of Collections and Public Engagement, Dorset County Museum, Dorchester, UK

Dr Anja Siegemund, Director, Neue Synagoge Berlin - Centrum Judaicum, Germany

Tess Smiechowska, Art Historian, Exhibition Curator, Emanuel Ringelblum Jewish Historical Institute, Poland

Dr. Francesco Spagnolo, Curator, The Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life, University of California, Berkeley, United States

Dr Barbara Staudinger, Director, Jüdisches Kulturmuseum Augsburg, Germany

Prof. Dariusz Stola, former Director, Polin Museum of the History of Polish Jews, Poland

Hannes Sulzenbacher, Curator, Austria

Dr. Jana Švantnerová, Curator, Bratislava Jewish Community Museum, Slovakia

Mats Tangestuen, Academic Director, Oslo Jewish Museum, Oslo

Dr Zsuzsanna Toronyi, Director, Hungarian Jewish Museum and Archives, Hungary

Dr. Werner Transier, Curator of Judaica (retired) , Historisches Museum der Pfalz, Speyer, Germany

Dr Christiane Twiehaus, Curator, MiQua. LVR-Jewish Museum in the Archaeological Quarter Cologne, Germany

Dr Heidemarie Uhl, Austrian Academy of Sciences, Vienna, Researcher/Lecturer/Member of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance

Dr Johannes Wachten, Chief Curator and Deputy Director (retired), Jewish Museum Frankfurt, Germany

Morgan Wadsworth-Boyle, Assistant Curator, Jewish Museum London, UK

Niko Wahl, Independent curator, Vienna, Austria

Professor Dr. Liliane Weissberg, Professor, University of Pennsylvania, and curator, Various institutions, USA

Prof Mirjam Wenzel, Director, Jewish Museum Frankfurt, Germany

Mag. Regina Wonisch, Museologist, Curator, Austria

Prof. Dr. Mirjam Zadoff, Director, NS-Documentation Centre Munich, Germany

Małgorzata Zając, Chief Research Specialist, Polin Museum of the History of Polish Jews, Poland

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