Memory & Action
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Memory & Action

Common Threads: Holocaust Survivors Who Built Fashion Careers

Staff at the Jewish-owned Leopold Seligman company in Hausvogteiplatz, Berlin, 1933. —Archive Westphal

Berlin boasted a thriving, largely Jewish-owned fashion district that sought to rival Paris in the 1920s and 1930s — before it was destroyed by the Nazis. Leading Jewish designer and trendsetter Norbert Jutschenka owned a successful business there until the Nazis forced him to sell his company for a fraction of its value.

Judith Leiber, who had to give up studying chemistry because of the outbreak of World War II, reinvented herself after the war in Budapest and then New York. Celebrities and First Ladies have carried her crystal-studded designer handbags. This digital program explored what was lost in the fall of a once-rising fashion capital, and how working in the clothing industry helped some survivors build new lives.

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