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TU Berlin acquires largest archive for research into visual antisemitism

Wednesday, 20. March 2019

Media Information No. 48/2019

The Center for Research on Antisemitism has acquired a unique collection of antisemitic images as well as a new location in the Moabit district of Berlin.

Donor Arthur Langerman pictured next to the first academic analyses of antisemitic images from his private collection
Lupe [1]

Belgian collector Arthur Langerman has donated his unique collection of antisemitic visual artifacts, estimated to be worth several million euros, to TU Berlin’s Center for Research on Antisemitism (ZfA). The Arthur Langerman Archive for Research on Visual Antisemitism (ALAVA) will be housed within the ZfA at a new location on Kaiserin-Augusta-Allee in Moabit. On an area of 1,400 square meters, the new location houses seminar rooms, offices, and exhibition spaces as well as the ALAVA and the Center’s specialist library, all providing new perspectives and possibilities for academic research and teaching.

Brussels-based Arthur Langerman’s collection is the largest private archive of antisemitic images worldwide. It represents the full visual repertoire of Jew-hatred with all its contradictions and evil as well as its consequences. Consisting of almost 8000 individual items, including 5000 postcards, more than 1000 hand-drawn sketches, several hundred posters and numerous printed works and paintings, the collection is not only remarkable in its extent but also in terms of its historical and regional diversity.

The historical focus ranges from the late 19th century until the end of World War II, but also includes collectibles dating from after 1945. “The Langerman collection, which includes items which were previously completely unknown to researchers, undoubtedly represents a source of unique potential for historical research in general, and antisemitic research in particular,” Professor Dr. Stefanie Schüler-Springorum, director of the ZfA, points out. While some research has been conducted into antisemitic images, research into classical antisemitism and prejudice has until now primarily focused on textual documents. “There has never been a systematic examination of antisemitic sentiments and the emotional relevance of images. Of equal importance, however, is the process of teaching people how to view stereotypes. We have to enable people to independently question the power of the images,” adds Professor Dr. Uffa Jensen, deputy director of the Center for Research on Antisemitism. Professor Jensen’s DFG-funded Heisenberg Professorship at TU Berlin focuses in particular on this topic within its historic perspective and establishes the idea of a visual history of emotion.  

“At TU Berlin we attach great importance to sensitizing students to topics such as antisemitism and racism and to contributing though our research in Berlin to the creation of a Europe founded upon freedom, democracy, and human rights,” says TU President Professor Dr. Christian Thomsen regarding the importance of this issue. At the ZfA last semester a group of students in the Interdisciplinary Research on Antisemitism master’s program had a unique opportunity as part of their academic studies to examine and explore original artifacts from Arthur Langerman’s collection on the theme of “antisemitic postcards from German spa towns”.

Berlin’s historical responsibility

On the occasion of the transfer of the Arthur Langerman Archive to TU Berlin, the governing mayor of Berlin and senator for science and research, Michael Müller, observed: “In view of the increasing number of antisemitic incidents in Berlin and across Germany, there is a particularly urgent need for an academic and critical examination of the Shoa and its causes. It is a great honor for Berlin and the city’s academic world to have the privilege of housing the Arthur Langerman collection. I would like to express my thanks to the donor.”

Also present at the handover ceremony were Steffen Krach, state secretary for science and research and Sawsan Chebli, state secretary for civic engagement and intercultural affairs.

“It is a significant event for all of us and for Berlin as a historic city to be presented with such an extensive collection by a Belgian Holocaust survivor. We are extremely grateful to Arthur Langerman for the trust he has shown in us,” Professor Jensen said.

The Center for Research on Antisemitism, which is home to the world’s largest antisemitism research library, is currently located in the TU Hochhaus on Ernst-Reuter-Platz. However, the Center will be relocating during the course of this year. It will be moving to a new building near the TU campus which will provide the necessary security and conversational conditions for the ALAVA and the library as well as sufficient space for conducting research and holding university lectures and Seminars.

Further information:

  • on the Langerman collection www.tu-berlin.de/?189930 [2]; www.tu-berlin.de/?201724&L=1 [3]
  • on the Center for Research on Antisemitism and its research activities: https://www.tu-berlin.de/?116066&L=1 [4]
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Further information available from:

Stefanie Terp
Spokesperson of TU Berlin
Tel.: +49 30 314-23922
Contact [5]

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