Artifact on Display at German Museum to Return to Jewish Heirs, Decades After Seizure by Nazis
The descendants of a German Jewish woman will be given restitution for silverware forcibly taken from her by the Nazis in Munich, after intervention by the magazine of B’nai B’rith International, the Jewish organization said on Thursday.
Hermine Bernheimer —who was born and raised in Göppingen, Germany, and later moved to Munich — was adhering to a 1939 Nazi order that Jews must turn over precious metal objects to their local pawn shops when she reliquished a silver cup she owned, according to B’nai B’rith Magazine. She was later deported to the Theresienstadt concentration camp and murdered.
Her great-niece Naomi Karp first learned about the silver cup in January 2020 from Dr. Matthias Weniger, head of provenance research at the Bavarian National Museum in Munich, which had the item held in storage for decades. Karp proved her relationship to Bernheimer, but she and her extended family had been waiting since April 2021 for the Bavarian Ministry of Science and the Arts to sign paperwork releasing the item to Bernheimer’s family.
After B’nai B’rith Magazine’s Dina Gold reached out to the ministry, asking why the objects were still being held by the national museum, the ministry signed the paperwork last month. Bernheimer’s family has decided to give the cup to the Jewish Museum in Goppingen.
“I’m thrilled that the logjam has been broken and grateful for Dina’s help,” Karp said.
Weniger commented, “There can never be a truly happy ending after all that’s happened. But I look forward to handing the cup, at Naomi and her family’s request, to the Jewish Museum in Göppingen, to be a permanent memory of Hermine’s terrible fate and that of so many others.”
B’nai B’rith said more details about Bernheimer’s silver cup and its history will be featured in magazine’s winter edition.