Through a Glass Darkly: Maine's HHRC Archives Illuminate the Struggle of Even Prominent Jews



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Through a Glass Darkly: Maine's HHRC Archives Illuminate the Struggle of Even Prominent Jews to Find Refuge in America in a Very Dark Era

In 1927, Dr. Hans Werner Muehsam of Berlin, Germany, son of famed collector Jacques Muehsam, sold his father’s art glass collection for $140,000. The collection was split between the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City and the Chicago Art Institute. The purchase of this extensive collection was reported in many of the nation’s major newspapers, including the New York Times, which posted this headline:

“Praise Art Glass Bought By Museum: Experts Regard the Muehsam Collection as One of the Finest in the World.”

The Muehsam family was an established and well-to-do German family with branches in the United States. By the late 1930s they, like so many German Jews, were desperately trying to emigrate. Despite their wealth and connections, however, the experience of the Muehsams was representative of that of so many German Jews who sought refuge in the United States during these years. Theirs was a story of pleas for help, closing doors, imprisonments, escapes, and tragic deaths.

Using letters found in the archives of the Holocaust and Human Rights Center of Maine as a starting point, this online lecture will follow three branches of the Muehsam family as they navigate the American bureaucracy that worked not with but against them.

About the Speaker

Erica Nadelhaft is the Education Coordinator at the Holocaust and Human Rights Center of Maine. She is also an adjunct associate professor at the University of Maine at Fort Kent, where she teaches courses on the genocide, the Holocaust, women’s history, and world history. She has a BA in history from Brandeis University and an MA in Contemporary Jewish History and Holocaust Studies from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. She has three grown daughters and lives in Fort Kent with her husband.
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