Memories of Berlin before the breakout of World War II — Jewish Renaissance

Matthew Reisz introduces Barbara Loftus’s beautiful, two-volume collection of artwork, stories and more, which launched earlier this month

It was only in 1994 that Hildegard Basch began to speak openly about her experiences of growing up Jewish in pre-war Berlin. This initially led her daughter, the artist Barbara Loftus, to produce a series of haunting works depicting the episode in November 1938 when two SA paramilitaries turned up at the Basch apartment with a tea chest, into which they placed the family porcelain, and confiscated most of the cutlery, leaving an empty cabinet in the dining room.

Illustrating this scene provided the impetus for a much wider investigation of “the imagined house of my mother’s early years”, as Loftus writes in her book The Distanced Observer/Die Distanzierte Beobachterin. She continued to excavate this lost world for over 25 years in a wide variety of media, including film, photographic reconstructions and silhouettes, and especially in her powerful oil paintings.

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