The Last Europeans. Jewish Perspectives on the Crises of an Idea | The Brunner Family. An Estate

06 November 2019 to 08 March 2020

Museum Dorotheergasse


Seventy-five years after the end of World War II, Europe is threatened by a relapse into nationalistic and xenophobic ideologies.

The European imperative of “Never Again!” is being challenged by many, also here in Austria. At the same time, Europe’s nationalists are discovering their own fantasy of the “Christian-Jewish Occident”—as a battle cry against immigration and integration. The values of the Enlightenment, which constituted the foundation of European rapprochement in the wake of the catastrophes of the 20th century, are reversed into their opposite and turned into means of seclusion and marginalization.

Starting point for the exhibition “The Last Europeans. Jewish Perspectives on the Crises of an Idea” is a donation to the Jewish Museum Hohenems consisting of letters and documents, memorabilia and everyday objects from the Brunner family who left Hohenems for Trieste in the first half of the 19th century to contribute to the rapid development of the Habsburg metropolis in the Mediterranean region. The family’s steep social and cultural ascent ended in Europe’s evolution into a continent of mutual hatred and two world wars.

Before this background, the Jewish Museum Hohenems looks at Jewish individuals who, in light of Europe’s destruction and the attempted annihilation of the European Jews, transcended national and cultural borders and vehemently demanded the universal application of human rights once again. Based on their commitment to a united and peaceful Europe, this exhibition explores at the same time the threats facing it anew. At the same time, it will be the location of an open debate on the future of Europe scheduled to be held—in collaboration with the Central European University in Vienna—at the Jewish Museum Hohenems in 2020 and 2021. Thus, for one year, Hohenems will turn into a “Very Central European University.”

The Ephrussis. Travel in Time

06 November 2019 to 13 April 2020

Museum Dorotheergasse,
Dorotheergasse 11, 1010 Vienna

Things and the stories that tell about the people who once collected them, held them in their hands, passed them on and found them again are the focus of the exhibition at the Jewish Museum Vienna. It examines the fate of the Ephrussi family, who originated from Russia, and their voluntary and involuntary travels between Russia, Austria, France, Great Britain, Spain, the USA, Mexico, Japan and other countries. On the basis of selected objects, documents and pictures, the economic and social development of a European-Jewish family, whose descendants now live scattered throughout the world as a result of flight and expulsion during the Nazi era, is traced. Works once belonging to the family can be found today in international museums and art collections. These recall the former owners and their relationships with the artistic and intellectual circles of that time in Odessa, St. Petersburg, Vienna, Berlin, Paris, London, Madrid and other places.

At the heart of the exhibition is the Ephrussi Family Archives, donated to the Jewish Museum by the De Waal family, as well as 157 netsukes the family will loan to the museum.

Curators: Gabriele Kohlbauer-Fritz, Tom Juncker
Exhibition design: Schuberth und Schuberth


Lady Bluetooth. Hedy Lamarr

27 November 2019 to 10 May 2020
Jewish Museum,
Judenplatz 1, 1010 Vienna

Hedy Lamarr was one of the most glamorous Hollywood stars. For a long time, however, few people were aware that she invented frequency hopping, the technology on which mobile telephony, Bluetooth, and WLAN are based.
Born in 1914 in Vienna, Hedy Kiesler grew up in the wealthy Viennese district Döbling as the daughter of a Jewish bank director. Max Reinhardt discovered her talents for the theater, and in 1933 she became internationally famous following a nude scene in the film Ecstasy. That year she married the powerful ammunition factory owner and arms dealer Fritz Mandl. In 1937, she fled from his domineering character and jealousy to Hollywood. At the suggestion of film mogul Louis B. Mayer, her name was changed to Hedy Lamarr. Her first film Algiersmade her world famous. When the USA entered the war, she sought to help fight the Nazis through the invention of a remote control system for torpedoes developed together with the composer George Antheil. She was often referred to as the most beautiful woman in the world and married six times. Having attracted headlines in later years on account of cosmetic surgery and shoplifting, the diva withdrew completely from the public eye.
The city of Vienna established the Hedy Lamarr Prize in 2018 for innovative women researchers. She died in 2000 and is buried in an honorary grave in Vienna Central Cemetery.

Curator: Andrea Winklbauer
Exhibition design: Schuberth und Schuberth

Image © Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Foto: Laszlo Willinger (Anthony Loder Archive)

Let´s Dance! The Viennese cafetier Otto Pollak

22 January 2020 to 07 June 2020

Jewish Museum,
Dorotheergasse 11, 1010 Vienna

Café Palmhof was located at Mariahilferstrasse 135 in Vienna’s 15th district and operated from 1919 by Otto Pollak (1894–1978) and his brother Karl (1889–1943). The two brothers made Café Palmhof a popular Viennese meeting place. During the day it was run as a coffee house, while concerts, dances and social events, such as the 1933 “Fräulein-Wien-Wahl”, took place in the evenings. Many of the musicians performing in Café Palmhof are forgotten today, but were stars back then. Live radio broadcasts by RAVAG (Radio Verkehrs AG) regularly emanated from Café Palmhof. In 1938, the coffee house was “Aryanized.” The Pollak family fled first to Gaya in Moravia, Otto and Karl’s birthplace. From there, the entire family was deported to Theresienstadt in 1943. As a disabled war veteran—he had lost a leg in the First World War—Otto Pollak was spared further deportation. Three days after his arrival, Karl was deported to Auschwitz and murdered there. Otto and his daughter Helga survived Theresienstadt. The Palmhof was restituted in the early 1950s, but Otto Pollak declined to continue the coffeehouse. Today there is a supermarket on the premises.

Not only does the exhibition tell the story of Café Palmhof, but also of Otto Pollak’s life. His biography exemplifies Jewish participation in Vienna’s cultural and social life. The exhibited documents and objects from the estate of Otto Pollak let his personality and the social environment come alive again and are reminiscent of the Vienna which Ludwig Hirschfeld describes in his legendary travel guide “Was nicht im Baedecker steht” (“What Isn’t in the Baedecker Guide”) (1927).

Image © Privatsammlung Kinsky