Jewish Construction, The Long Nineteenth Century

PD Dr. Andreas Brämer, Dr.-Ing. Katrin Keßler, Dr.-Ing. Ulrich Knufinke, Dipl.-Ing. Mirko Przystawik, Pia Dressler, Anne Kunhardt 

Funded from 2016 to 2023 by the German Research Foundation (DFG)

The project explores the paths of Jews toward the professional field of architecture in the German Reich in the first half of the twentieth century. The focus is on Jewish architects in the 1920s, who completed their diploma and achieved their first professional successes in the final years of the Kaiserreich. Many of them played an important role in the development of twentieth-century architecture.

Questions concerning history of professionalization of Jewish architects in connections with the general history of architecture guide the project: What approaches did young Jews take to the professional field, against what personal and family background, and with what goals? Where did professionalization take place? Were there specific networks among Jewish architects; how were they connected with their non-Jewish colleagues at educational institutions, in professional associations and societies? What role did relationships with clients and employers play? What commissions did Jewish architects receive and how did they position themselves in architectural debates? What paths of exchange existed beyond the borders of the German Reich, and how did these relationships play out in the phase of persecution and extermination after 1933? What paths did Jewish architects take in exile or emigration, especially in Palestine/Israel, in the USA, and in European countries?

The study of professionalization, architecture, and the market requires an approach that takes into account biographical and contemporary historical aspects, as well as institutional history and architectural history. For the “group” of Jewish architects, an additional essential question involves that of the attribution of Jewish identities to the self or to others. This question arises both for the period before 1933 and for the phase of persecution and emigration. A study of the paths of German-Jewish architects to and in emigration allows conclusions to be drawn about their continued influence after 1933 and 1945, and thus about international architectural transfer in the modern era of the twentieth century.

Principal Investigator:
PD Dr. Andreas Brämer

Project staff:
Dr.-Ing. Katrin Keßler (project staff)
Dr.-Ing. Ulrich Knufinke (project staff until May 2018)
Dipl.-Ing. Mirko Przystawik (project staff),
Pia Dressler (student assistant)
Anne Kunhardt (student assistant)

Dr.-Ing. Katrin Keßler
E-mail: katrin.kessler[at]

Dipl.-Ing. Mirko Przystawik
E-mail: mirko.przystawik[at]

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