I visited Berlin on from the 8th – 12th January. I planned to visit the Berlinische Galerie where around 12,000 of Hannah Hoch’s works and items related are archived. I was disappointed to find that the gallery will be closed due to renovation until May. I emailed the gallery to see if there were any other exhibitions or archives I could visit while I was there. Dr. Ralf Burmeister,
Head of the Artists’ Archives emailed me back recommending I go to see an exhibition at Gallery Aurel Scheibler and to visit Kupferstichkabinett/SMB but unfortunately I arrived back home the day before his response.
While I was there I visited numerous war memorials, museums, and historical sites to gain a deeper understanding of how life must have been before, during and after the time of WW2. I can’t begin to imagine how people lived with the level of fear engulfing their ever day. I felt incredible sad reading the facts, people’s stories of trying to escape, persecution and surveillance. The photographs brought the horror to life. One photograph stands out in my mind of a group of Jewish people being rounded up and a police man is pointing a gun at a boy, I estimate around 8 years of age. The fear in his face as he stands with his hands up, it broke my heart. I listened to people’s stories after the war about how a girl wanted to visit family in another country. She was living at the time in West Berlin. She had to apply to leave and she was called before the authorities where her application was denied. She was told they didn’t trust her reasons for leaving and questioned places she visited and family and friends she had in West Berlin. She could not believe they were paying so much attention to her movements when she was just an average German girl. She knew then it was time for her to escape. She left with her mother and said goodbye to her grandmother as she knew she would never see her again. They escaped to the West. A simple story of wanting to go on holiday led me to think of how Hoch lived under surveillance of the Secret State Police hiding an abundance of Dada artifacts and degenerate art and what would have happened to her if she would have been found with them.
The bravery of the artists and people who stood up against both wars has really been brought home to me during this trip and although I didn’t get to see her work or collections I have gained a different understanding.