It has been eighty years since 1938, a year that had an existential impact on the Jews of Germany and Austria, on Europe, and on the world. Prior to 1938, Jews in Germany experienced five years of antisemitic propaganda, professional discrimination, and increasing exclusion from all levels of society. In 1938, this exclusion became almost total, and the National Socialists launched a campaign of widespread, systematic violence against Jews. The violence of the Kristallnacht on November 9 was preceded by a series of grim developments, including the annexation of Austria in March, the failure of the international community to develop solutions to the refugee crisis at the Évian Conference in July, the Munich Agreement that allowed the invasion of the Czech borderlands in September, and the deportation of Polish Jews in October. By December, the situation was so desperate that Jewish parents sent some 10,000 children to relative safety abroad on Kindertransports. Many of those parents never saw their children again.
Eighty years after these events, how does one grasp the mixture of horror and surprise felt by the victims of the Nazi regime? One significant way is to look at the letters, diaries, and photographs saved by German Jews and their families. Using documents from our archives and those of several partner institutions, the Leo Baeck Institute – New York | Berlin will update www.1938projekt.org with personal stories based on documents from our own collections and the collections of partner institutions—one for each day in 1938. These materials illustrate the range of reactions and emotions that individuals and families had as they struggled to escape Germany and Austria in order to survive. In addition, significant world events are described alongside the calendar entries to provide a broad context for the individual stories.
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Exhibition Opening and Launch Event
Tuesday, February 27, 2018, 6:30 PM
The 1938 Projekt: 80 Years Since 1938
Free – RSVP online
At the Center for Jewish History in New York and in selected locations throughout Germany (to be announced), LBI will also present exhibitions based on selected documents from the 1938Projekt online calendar. If you are in New York, please join us for a reception and brief presentation focused on the annexation of Austria (March 12, 1938), when nearly 200,000 Jews suddenly became subject to restrictions that had developed over 5 years in Nazi Germany. With Marsha L. Rozenblit, Harvey M. Meyerhoff Professor of Modern Jewish History at the University of Maryland.