Are purpose-built cities the future

■ No decision has yet been made in the dispute over the future of the Jewish Museum. Conversation between Senator for Culture Radunski and Museum Director Barzel postponed

The mood is irritable. The “Society for a Jewish Museum” invited visitors to the cinema of the Martin-Gropius-Bau in Kreuzberg on Tuesday evening to save what is threatening to be ground up in the mills of the cultural bureaucracy: the Jewish Museum project.

In two years the internationally acclaimed deconstructivist zigzag building by Daniel Libeskind will be ready for occupancy. But what should be in it is written in the stars. The city spent 120 million marks on the "extension of the Berlin Museum" - as it has recently been officially called without being Jewish - but not a penny on purchases. There is not even an implementable concept, there are only arguments and intrigues on a level for which the word "Posemuckel", so Lea Rosh on Tuesday evening, would be a glossing over. An “international scandal” threatens, says Ray Wolff from the Heimatmuseum Neukölln, but in any case “the greatest disgrace for museum history in Germany”, according to Vera Bendt, who began to build up Berlin's Jewish collection seventeen years ago.

A museum is about to disappear. That is the concern of almost all of the 120 or so people who turned up for the almost four-hour discussion. At the center of the debacle is the Israeli exhibition organizer Amnon Barzel, who wants to prevent this from happening. That is why he has been demoted from director to main department head by the general director of the higher-level Stadtmuseum foundation, Rainer Güntzer. Barzel fights with temperament and with the mistake of not antichambringing with the cultural bureaucracy for a culturally and financially autonomous Jewish museum within the City Museum Foundation. He wants a “Jewish view” of the history of Berlin and “no local museum with Jewish corners” in which the Jews appear only as victims. It is more than questionable that his concept for such an “integrative concept” will be able to assert himself in the cultural administration. The conversation with Senator for Culture Peter Radunski (CDU) planned for Tuesday, which could possibly end with Barzel's recall, has been postponed to next Tuesday.

Güntzer's niche view formulates his crown prince for a possible successor to Barzel, namely Dominik Bartmann. This is an unusually colorless man, graphics expert and currently acting director of the Berlin Museum. “We want to present the city's history taking into account the special share of the Jews in the city's history,” he says bravely, knowing full well that the majority in the hall thinks this is a concept of the 19th century. And later he saved himself in the resolutions of the early 1980s, although he did not want to stop collecting the views of the late chairman of the Jewish community, Heinz Galinski, for his model. Which is very spicy, because his head boss Güntzer wants to prepare an exhibition on the "German-Jewish patriot Galinski" in Schöneberg's town hall on his own initiative and expressly without the involvement of the Jewish community, let alone Amnon Barzel.

“No sensible person is against a Jewish museum,” claims Dominik Bartmann against all appearances, only to land right back on the carpet: “... but it is wrong to combine this with the Libeskind building.” Because it is an extension It was planned and decided for the city history collections including the Judaica of the Berlin Museum: "Everything else is a different story."

“Absurd,” says Lea Rosh, who many hope will put the same energy she invests in a memorial for dead Jews into a museum for living Jews. Just because the city once decided that way before the fall of the Berlin Wall, one could not now slip into an "embarrassment of the special class", warned Lea Rosh. Anita Kugler

The “Society for a Jewish Museum” has started a signature campaign calling on the Governing Mayor to initiate all organizational measures to ensure the cultural, financial and organizational independence of the Jewish Museum. (P.O. Box 1550550, 10667 Berlin)