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The Bennett Center for Judaic Studies hosts a variety of lectures and programs throughout the academic year. Joan and Henry Katz Lecture in Judaic Studies. “The Rise and Destruction of the Jewish Fashion Industry, Berlin 1836 – 1939” Speaker: Uwe Westphal, journalist, and author, Fashion Metropolis Berlin (2019)

Topic “The Rise and Destruction of the Jewish Fashion Industry, Berlin 1836 – 1939”

Description Speaker: Uwe Westphal, journalist, and author, Fashion Metropolis Berlin (2019)

Uwe Westphal tells the story of Jewish participation in Germany’s fashion industry and how the Nazi loyalists of fashion contributed to the Holocaust. At the beginning of the 20th century, the majority of the fashion houses were owned by Jewish people. They influenced the arts, theatre, film, and painting. Movie stars like Marlene Dietrich helped create and promote the style. After 1933, within the following six years, 2,700 Berlin Jewish fashion companies were confiscated, and Jewish owners were robbed of their properties. Today, there still exists a “wall of silence” in the German fashion industry.

Link to register

Cost: Complimentary

Time Apr 13, 2021 07:30 PM in Eastern Time (US and Canada)

A podcast from the Berliner Zeitung

One hundred years ago Berlin became the European fashion metropolis. Thanks to thousands of Jewish designers and fashion workers. All of this ended in 1933. Ida Luise Krenzlin interviewed me (in German) for a podcast of the Berliner Zeitung, see Folge 5. Click here to listen to podcast.


Fashion Culture Online Event: Fashion Metropolis Berlin

#MuseumAtFIT #FashionCulture
Fashion Culture | Fashion Metropolis Berlin

The Museum at FIT
Join us for Q&A during the YouTube premiere of this pre-recorded event. Click here to watch video.

Berlin was a fashion capital in the 1920s, with hundreds of thriving clothing manufacturers, most of them Jewish, before it was decimated by the Nazis. Author Uwe Westphal shares this history in a discussion with FIT historian Keren Ben-Horin and journalist Jennifer Altmann, whose grandfather ran one of Berlin’s fashion houses.

Organized in partnership with the Museum at Eldridge Street.

Trailer for Fashion Metropolis Berlin 1836 – 1939: The Story Of The Rise and Destruction Of The Jewish Fashion Industry
Production by
Piano music by Rebekka Alpermann
Jazz music by

Clip from Mrs G. (2019)
Muse Productions, Israel
Director: Dalit Kimor
Producer: Yahali Gat
Script and Research: Ayala Raz & Keren Ben-Horin

Mrs. G. clip modified with music overlay:
Sounds by Alexander Nakarada


The Museum at FIT (MFIT) is the only museum dedicated exclusively to the art of fashion in New York City. #MuseumAtFIT #FashionCulture

Spannende Zeitreise ins avantgardistische Modezentrum Berlin

Modemetropole Berlin_VorschauEinzelschicksale und Firmenbiografien verwoben zu einer Geschichte Berlins Tolle Ausstattung in Leinen und viele historische Abbildungen

Zwei Bände: Deutsch und Englisch

Neben Paris war Berlin seit Mitte des 19. Jahrhunderts eine Metropole für Konfektion und Fashion. Junge Unternehmer – meist jüdischer Herkunft – siedelten sich hier an und investierten in kreative Designs und innovative Produktionsweisen. Die urbane Frau der 1920er Jahre wäre ohne die Kleider aus dem Hause der Gebrüder Manheimer oder dem Wertheim-Warenhaus nicht denkbar. In den 1930er Jahren zerstörten die Nationalsozialisten damit eine einzigartige Tradition: Viele hoch- angesehene jüdische Konfektionshäuser wurden »arisiert«, die Inhaber enteignet, vertrieben oder ermordet. Die spannend erzählte Darstellung macht sowohl das modische Berlin bis 1939 wieder lebendig als auch das begangene große Unrecht schmerzhaft deutlich.


  • Mode Metropole Berlin 1836 – 1939 Entstehung und Zerstörung der jüdischen Konfektionshäuser
  • Fashion Metropolis Berlin 1836 – 1939 The Story of the Rise and Destruction of the Jewish Fashion Industry

288 Seiten 180 s/w und farbige Abbildungen Hardcover in bedrucktem Leinen mit Prägung 17 x 23 cm _ 28, – [D] _ 28,80 [A] WGS 1 947 März 2019 ISBN 978-3-89487-805-4 (dt.) ISBN 978-3-89487-806-1 (engl.)

Comedian Eddie Izzard plans to fix U.K. Labour Party’s anti-Semitism problem

The accusations of anti-Semitism that continue to rock Britain’s Labour Party are beyond a joke, but stand-up comedian Eddie Izzard believes he can help tackle the problem.

Izzard joined Labour’s ruling body on Sunday, and wasted no time in facing up to the crisis gripping the left-wing party.

Writing in British tabloid The Mirror, he stated, “This is a very important time for the Labour Party and we must stamp out completely the stain of anti-Semitism from a minority of members. It has no place in our Party, in our country, or in our world.

“I have campaigned against racism and hate my whole life, and will continue to do so wherever it rears its ugly head,” he continued. Izzard, 56, added that his party “must make amends and repair the damage with the Jewish community as Jeremy Corbyn has promised to do.”

Continue reading on

The Nazis Who Stripped the Jewish Clothing Industry Bare and the German Who Hunts Them Down


Leopold Seligman company

Staff at the Jewish-owned Leopold Seligman company in Hausvogteiplatz, Berlin, 1933. Of the 2,700 Jewish-owned firms that year, only 150 remained by 1939.

By Judy Maltz | Mar 21, 2018, originally appeared on

Uwe Westphal is a man on a mission. The German novelist, journalist and consultant has devoted more than 30 years of his life to investigating the brutal Nazi takeover of the Jewish-dominated clothing industry in Berlin – and his findings have since served as evidence in numerous restitution claims.

His latest, as yet untitled, exposé of what he calls “state-organized theft of unbelievable magnitude” is scheduled for publication early next year. Westphal promises it will be “more explosive” than anything he has revealed until now. “And I’m still not done,” he adds.

Westphal, 60, was in Israel recently for Tel Aviv Fashion Week, delivering lectures on his pet subject. He tells Haaretz that his latest findings, based on documents discovered in newly opened archives, will constitute a “gold mine” for those still seeking restitution payments from the German government or from private individuals who profited from the so-called “Aryanization” of the German garment industry in the 1930s.

Uwe Westphal portrait

Credit: Ofer Vaknin

The figures he quotes are staggering: In 1933, nearly 2,700 Jewishowned clothing companies – most in the ready-to-wear line – existed in Berlin, accounting for an overwhelming 85 percent of the industry and employing some 90,000 workers. By 1939, only about 150 remained.
“The industry was completely and utterly destroyed and robbed with the help of German banks, which refused to give loans to Jewish businesses, and insurance companies, which refused to issue Jewish businesses with policies to protect exports – and this was an industry based largely on exports,” explains Westphal.

It was almost by a fluke, as Westphal recounts it, that he developed his longtime obsession with the pre-Holocaust Jewish fashion industry in the German capital. In the 1980s, as a rookie reporter trying to realize his dream of
becoming a foreign correspondent, he consulted with several editors who gave him some unusual advice. “They told me I should become a fashion reporter,” he recalls. “‘But I know nothing about fashion,’ I told them. And they said not to worry, that I would work myself into it.”

It was not long after that, while covering a fashion show in Paris for the German daily Der Tagesspiegel, that Westphal met an elderly woman with a story he had never heard before. She told him she had been a fashion designer in Berlin, but was forced to leave the country because she was Jewish. A few weeks after they met, she sent Westphal a long and detailed letter about her memories from that time. “As a kid, I had learned about the Holocaust and the Nazi period and all that,” says Westphal, who is not Jewish. “But until then, I’d never ever heard about the crimes committed in the textile and fashion industry in Berlin.”

staff at Leopold Seligman

One of the final photographs taken of staff at Leopold Seligman, before the firm was forced into
liquidation by Nazi officials in 1935. Seligman left for London and later resettled in New Mexico.

In 1992, Westphal published “Berliner Konfektion und Mode 1836-1939” (“The Clothing and Fashion Industry in Berlin 1836-1939”), a two-volume book that documented the Aryanization of the Jewish fashion industry. This “fact book,” as he describes it, included an index listing about 200 Jewish-owned businesses that existed in Berlin in the 1930s and the names of those who, in Westphal’s words, “robbed” them. His decision to point fingers and name names drew fire in certain quarters. “I had some problems, to put it mildly,” he recounts. “I received threatening phone calls, I had to move six times. Ultimately, I left Germany and moved to London and from there to New York.” (He later moved back to London, and now divides his time between there and Berlin.) But there were also some who benefited from the book’s
publication. Westphal’s findings were used by lawyers in German and English courtrooms to obtain restitution payments for Jewish clients in several dozen cases – including many, he says, who had “lost everything they had.”

The mission continues

After the book was published, Westphal was inundated with letters from Jews worldwide whose families had owned business in the garment industry in prewar Germany. Each letter contained a detailed, personal account of the tragedy that had befallen the family, often accompanied by photographs. Westphal realized his work was not over: Three years ago, he published another book on the Jewish fashion industry in pre-war Berlin – this one a work of fiction.
“Ehrenfried and Cohn: Goodbye, Berlin – The Last Fashion Show” (published in German by Lichtig Verlag in 2015 and a year later in English) tells the story of a Jewish clothing company in 1930s Berlin that was taken over by the Nazis and whose owners return after the war to reclaim their property. “Although this is a work of fiction, I can truly and honestly say that nothing about this story was invented,” says Westphal. “It’s based on a compilation of anywhere between 220 and 240 personal accounts I’ve received.” He says his third, soon-to-be-published work was made possible
thanks to new archival material made available after the fall of communism. Many of the documents he discovered on this little-students at Berlin’s Humboldt University.

Westphal admits to being disappointed that his research and findings haven’t elicited a greater outcry in Germany.
“If I ask prominent fashion designers in the country whether they don’t think they should take into account what happened in the past,” he says, “they usually just shrug their shoulders. They don’t want to do anything to make amends.” This doesn’t surprise him – especially considering what a prominent German fashion designer once told him, in private, about the fate of his Jewish peers during those prewar days. “He said it was their greatest hour of luck because, as he put it, they ‘got rid of the competition,’ and knew they would continue to profit as a result in the postwar years,” says Westphal. “And indeed, many did.”

Manheimer, Levy & Co.

Ein Uni-Projekt will die Geschichte jüdischer Konfektionshäuser in Berlin aufarbeiten

Schnittmuster, Stoffe, Karteikarten – alles holten die Nazis in der Pogromnacht aus den Modehäusern, stapelten es vor den Kleiderfabriken am Hausvogteiplatz und zündeten es an. »Wie die Wildschweine haben sie gewütet«, berichtet Uwe Westphal, Journalist und Buchautor (Berliner Konfektion und Mode: Die Zerstörung einer Tradition, 1836–1939, Edition Hentrich 1992). Das hätten ihm Zeitzeugen erzählt. Bis dahin hatten 2700 Konfektionshäuser, Zwischenmeister und Ateliers, die in jüdischem Besitz waren, am Hausvogteiplatz und in den benachbarten Straßen ihre Adresse gehabt. 1940 waren es nur noch 300.

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Media training at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Berlin Campus

Uwe Westphal at the Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University

Strategic media management, risk avoidance methods in PR and interviews at the Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University

April 12, 2018 at 9:00-17:00

Basic and advanced media training for every day challenges, risk communication, security and strategic media coaching sessions at the Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. The seminar will be for a small group with a maximum of six participants which is perfect for those who want to experience and learn how to perform in front of cameras and investigate journalists. This course will also discuss taking care of short-long term strategic media management, risk avoidance methods in PR and interviews, and risk management.

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Jazz musicians at the Berlin Jazzfest, starting next week, take a stand against Brexit. BCCG spoke to Richard Williams, artistic director of Berlin Jazzfest 2017, about British Jazz, new Jazz from Manchester and what worries artists about the Brexit.