Podcast: The rise and destruction of the Jewish fashion industry (The Magnes/Center for Jewish Studies)

Twin sisters Sally and Ruth Katz (left and right) as spectators at Polo Week in Berlin-Frohnau in 1928. (Photo © Ullstein-Bild/Zander&Labisch)
March 10, 2023

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In Berkeley Talks episode 163, Uwe Westphal, author of the 2019 book, Fashion Metropolis Berlin 1836-1939: The Story of the Rise and Destruction of the Jewish Fashion Industrydiscusses Berlin’s once-thriving Jewish fashion industry and how the Nazi confiscations of Jewish-owned companies in the years before World War II led to the industry’s demise.

“The destruction of the entire fashion industry meant forced labor, government-organized theft and the murder and the deportation of Jews,” Westphal says. “Today, 78 years after the end of World War II, unlike most other industries in Germany, fashion producers small and large have not yet taken on responsibility for what happened. … A younger generation needs to understand the connection between the Holocaust and the destruction of the Berlin fashion industry.”

This event, which took place on Feb. 15, was sponsored by the UC Berkeley Center for Jewish StudiesThe Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life, Goethe-Institut San Francisco and the Consulate General of the Federal Republic of Germany San Francisco.

Watch a video of the lecture below.


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