The Portrait Exhibition

Portrait Exhibition at the Lustgarten© KPB / Christian Kielmann

Following the Nazis’ accession to power in January 1933, little by little new legislation was passed into law with the aim of marginalising and supressing all those cultural, political and economic forces which did not conform to the ideological beliefs of the National Socialists. This sustained assault on cultural diversity was foreshadowed by the street violence and agitation of the SA and NSDAP in the final years of the Weimar Republic. Along with the destruction of the rule of law and democratic government, it resulted in the almost total devastation of the cultural diversity which had made Berlin a metropolis of global interest.

An inconceivable number of artists, writers, composers, theatrical performers and producers, doctors, lawyers and teachers, who had all contributed to the vibrant urban cultural scenery of early 1930s Berlin, fell victim to the Nazi regime’s policies of marginalization and persecution–either because their very existence was contrary to the Nazis’ racist and anti-Semitic worldviews, or because their art was perceived as ‘un-German’ or politically unsavoury. The Nazi terror brought countless successful careers to an abrupt end and stifled promising young talents. Berlin’s colourful and decidedly international cultural scene was replaced with the uniform cultural landscape of the Nazis’ enforced political integration. No trace of those who were marginalized, exiled, deported or murdered was to remain in collective memory–all record of their existence was to be permanently destroyed.

Today, some eight decades later, having long since regained our cultural diversity and in recognition of its immense value, we wish to commemorate the lives of these men and women and to reveal the faces behind their stories in a large open-air exhibition – now to visit at Brandenburger Tor, since 21st of February at Lustgarten. These exhibition will feature over 200 portraits in total, including well-known personalities such as Albert Einstein and Bertolt Brecht, alongside numerous lesser known musicians, photographers, comedians, writers, variety artists and circus performers.