Summer 2022: Three-part series of talks with descendants of Jewish art collectors hosted by German Lost Art Foundation

Events and Conferences

This summer, the German Lost Art Foundation is hosting a three-part series of talks with descendants of Jewish art collectors, continuing a format begun in 2021 as part of the commemorative year "#2021JLID - Jewish Life in Germany".

Jewish patrons and collectors have played an important role in German cultural life since the 19th century. When the National Socialists came to power, they were persecuted and disenfranchised, and their property was confiscated and looted. To this day, many once important art collections have been scattered to the four winds, the collectors often forgotten. The German Lost Art Foundation supports projects with descendants who reconstruct their lost heritage, thus reviving an important piece of cultural property history. In three talks, Alfred Fass, Rafael Cardoso and Johannes Nathan talk about the search for their families' lost collections and the reconstruction of memories.

Talk 1: 11 July 2022 6pm
Alfred Fass in conversation with Yana Slavova and Uwe Hartmann (online).

Alfred Fass is the great-grandson of Nuremberg toy manufacturer Abraham Adelsberger (1863-1940), who owned an art collection of at least 1,000 objects. After his company Fischer & Co. ran into financial difficulties at the end of the 1920s, Adelsberger used parts of the collection as loan collateral with lenders such as the Dresdner Bank. In the Abraham Adelsberger Art Research Project of the Art History Institute at the FU Berlin, funded by the German Lost Art Foundation, the collection will be reconstructed, and also the role of banks in the exploitation of the objects will be illuminated. Abraham Adelsberger had works of art auctioned off before 1933, but the family lost the rest of the collection due to Nazi persecution. In 1939, Abraham Adelsberger fled with his wife Clothilde to Amsterdam, where he died in 1940. Clothilde Adelsberger was deported to Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in 1943 and survived the Holocaust.

The conversation will be held in English.

Alfred Fass is a businessman and historian in Israel.

Yana Slavova is a research associate in the "Abraham Adelsberger Art Research Project" at the Art History Institute of the Freie Universität Berlin.

Dr. Uwe Hartmann is head of the Department of Cultural Property Losses in 20th Century Europe at the German Lost Art Foundation

Talk 2:25 July 2022, 6pm
Rafael Cardoso in conversation with Catherine Hickley (online).

For a long time, Rafael Cardoso, born in Brazil, knew nothing of the fate of his great-grandfather Hugo Simon. It was only after he found a chest of drawers full of documents in his grandparents' estate in São Paulo that he began to work through the history of his German-Jewish family's persecution. The banker, pacifist and politician Hugo Simon (1880-1950) was an influential man in 1920s Berlin; after the November Revolution of 1918, he even briefly became Prussian finance minister for the USPD. Well connected in the cultural scene, Simon was instrumental in establishing the New Department at the National Gallery. He himself owned one of the most important art collections in Berlin with around 200 works. When Hugo Simon was forced to flee Germany in 1933, he was able to take most of the collection abroad, but from 1934 he was forced to successively sell works of art and lost others during the German occupation in Paris. At the end of the war, in exile in Brazil, Hugo Simon could only dispose of a few works. His great-grandson Rafael Cardoso, in a project sponsored by the Foundation together with the Art History Department of the University of Hamburg, is dedicated to the reconstruction of the collection and the search for its whereabouts.

The talk will be held in English.

Prof. Dr. Rafael Cardoso is an art historian and writer who now lives in Berlin.

Catherine Hickley writes as a journalist for The Art Newspaper" and the New York Times, among others. She is also chief curator of the Berend Lehmann Museum in Halberstadt.

Talk 3: 1 September 2022, 6.30 p.m
Johannes Nathan in Conversation with Lea Rosh (in person event at the Liebermann Villa on Wannsee)

Johannes Nathan is a descendant of Hugo Helbing (1863-1938), who until 1935 was one of the leading art dealers and auctioneers in Europe and amassed a significant art collection. In addition to his main business in Munich, Helbing maintained a branch in Frankfurt am Main and an office in Berlin and worked closely with the Berlin art dealer Paul Cassirer. His auctions were considered social events, and he was highly decorated for his services to the Bavarian State Painting Collections. After 1933, his business fell on hard times. On the night of the pogrom, Hugo Helbing was attacked in his apartment and so badly maltreated that he succumbed to his injuries on November 30, 1938. Two days later, the forced liquidation of his art business began, and the collection was seized from his heirs. In a project funded by the Foundation in cooperation with Meike Hopp of the Institute for Art History and Historical Urban Studies at the Technical University of Berlin, the collection is currently being reconstructed as far as possible and the whereabouts of the artworks clarified.

The event on September 1 will take place in cooperation with the Liebermann Villa at Wannsee.

Dr. Johannes Nathan is an art historian and art dealer in Potsdam and Zurich and chairman of the Max Liebermann Society Berlin e.V.

Lea Rosh is a multi-award-winning author and publicist.


The events on July 11 and 25 will take place as a video conference via Webex. Participation is free of charge, but only possible after registration until the day before. Participants will receive their access data on the day of the event. You will receive separate invitations for each of the dates. We kindly ask you to let us know to which meeting we can welcome you.

For the event on September 1 in the Liebermann Villa, please register by August 25.

Registrations to:
Heinrich Natho
Press Office German Lost Art Foundation
Phone +49 (0) 391 727 763-23
Fax +49 (0) 391 727 763-6

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