As part of the Leo Baeck Institute’s ongoing cooperation with the German Embassy in Washington, DC, Ambassador Klaus Scharioth opened the third exhibition in his residence featuring objects from the Institute’s vast collections on February 17. Under the title, “The Art of the Book,” the display is devoted to the rich contributions Jewish writers, illustrators, designers, publishers and collectors have made to literature, learning, and literacy in Germany through the centuries.
In his opening remarks, Ambassador Scharioth underlined the central role of books in Jewish life, which enabled German Jews to develop such a high profile in the production and dissemination of the written word after Gutenberg’s invention of book printing sparked a cultural revolution.
The exhibited texts, covers, and books, however, remind us not only of these important and lasting contributions to German culture, but also of the Nazis’ diabolical plans to erase all traces of Jewish life from Germany and Europe. Citing Heinrich Heine’s grim warning a hundred years before the Holocaust, that where books are burned, people will also be burned, Ambassador Scharioth pointed to the fate of the immensely popular children’s book author Else Ury, who was murdered in Auschwitz.
In her remarks, Carol Kahn Strauss, Executive Director of the Leo Baeck Institute, thanked Ambassador Scharioth and the German Embassy for their continued support of the Institute’s ongoing mission to collect and preserve the rich cultural heritage of German-speaking Jewry.
The exhibit will be on display for invited guests of the Ambassador through July.