Munich’s New Jewish Museum: No stories

We visited Munich’s new Jewish Museum at the weekend, on St Jakobs Platz, near the Stadtmuseum. The new synagogue, which looks a bit like a British car park from the outside, and the new culture center are also on the square. I hadn’t know before that Munich’s main synagogue used to be on St Jakob’s Platz before it was destroyed in 1938.

The museum was a disappointment. They seem to have made an effort to focus less on the holocaust, which is fair enough I suppose but only if they had actually focused on Jewish life instead. Even any hint at the number of jews living in Munich before the Nazis was strangely omitted in their timeline. All that was left was a collection of religious objects, with only brief descriptions of their meaning and use, as if Jews were a forgotten civilization about which we knew little. Modern lighting and design don’t make up for the lack of content.

With this much history and movement, including the new immigration from the ex-Soviet-Union, there should be some fascinating human-interest stories to tell and lives to celebrate. The audio recordings at the entrance are a start, though they force you to stand in the way of other visitors to hear them, but narrative was otherwise ignored. There is, however, a good specialist library on the upper floor, with books that you won’t find easily elsewhere, covering some of this.

Jewish Museum at St Jakobs Platz in Munich. Picture by “Toco” on Flickr. CC licensed.
Picture by “Toco” from Flickr.

Munich’s New Synagogue. Picture by “NiceBastard” from Flickr. CC licensed.
Picture by “NiceBastard” from Flickr

4 thoughts on “Munich’s New Jewish Museum: No stories

  1. Two years ago I liked very much the underground halls of the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe in Berlin. When you heard of millions of murdered people it’s hard to grasp what it really means; the exposition in Berlin pointed that they were people, families, from a thousand little places in Europe. The hall with the short stories of some Jewish families was touching; to see all these pictures of wedding reception, family dinners, workplaces, homes and to think that all of those people would’ve been killed in a few years and many of them forgotten because no family member survived was dreadful.

  2. I recommend you to come to Berlin and visit the Jewish Museum there. It is really interesting and covers all topics of Jewish history in Germany. You should plan at least an afternoon for it, as it is huge.

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