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On Trial: Auschwitz/ Majdanek
The new exhibition section On trial: Auschwitz/Majdanek at the Jewish Museum Berlin is dedicated to the two biggest German trials of National Socialist officials – the Auschwitz trial in Frankfurt (1963–1965) and the Majdanek trial in Düsseldorf (1975–1981). The open, minimalist design of the exhibition helps to create a spatial balance between its thematic content and the museum’s striking architecture, designed by Daniel Libeskind.
A series by the painter Minka Hauschild called “Majdanek Trial Portraits” (1996) depicts 44 participants of the trial as seen in the documentary film The Trial (1984) by Eberhard Fechner. The large-scale arrangement of the portraits into a single, collective work creates a cohesive link between the space, the contents and the art. At first glance the pictures appear neutral; it is only through the additional information on the iPads that the stories of those portrayed and their respective roles as perpetrators, victims and witnesses are revealed.
In the “Auschwitz trial” video installation, historical television coverage is intercut with interviews of contemporaneous witnesses from Germany, Holland and Canada. A stimulating alternation between text and image helps to paint a powerful picture of the beginnings of public debate and reflection on the murder of European Jewry and on the prevailing system of justice.
In both areas, carefully placed black benches and media cubes interact with the museum’s architecture and divide up the space in a distinctive, compelling manner.