Wednesday 7th October (12.10pm) Public History Talk at the National Library of New Zealand

When German-Jewish refugees arrived in New Zealand in the 1930s fleeing Hitler’s Europe, they brought everything they could from their former homes: furniture, luggage, personal documents, musical instruments, artwork, books, silverware, linen, a typewriter.

Some of these humble and remarkable domestic objects survive today, a few in public heritage collections; most in the private family homes of descendants. But while the Jewish refugee migration story is well known, less so is the story of those objects.

This talk shares findings from a research project exploring the relationships between Holocaust survivor refugee families, their descendants, and the material objects they have inherited.

7October2020photo LouisaHormann1 9903cf079e04513c - Public history talk: "Unpacking the Suitcase: researching the material culture of German-Jewish refugees in Aotearoa"

OBJECTS BROUGHT TO NEW ZEALAND BY THE GERSON AND FUCHS FAMILIES IN 1939. PRIVATE COLLECTIONS. PHOTOGRAPHED BY LOUISA HORMANN, REPRODUCED WITH PERMISSION.

About the speaker

Louisa Hormann completed her Master’s thesis “Unpacking the Suitcase: German-Jewish refugees in New Zealand and the afterlives of their displaced objects, 1933-2015” at Victoria University of Wellington in 2016. She joined the Research and Collections team at the Air Force Museum of New Zealand in 2017, and is the 2019-21 elected Emerging Museum Professionals representative on the Museums Aotearoa Board.

Her article An uncertain future: Jewish refugee artefacts in New Zealand and their ‘return’ to Germany is available to read online.