The history of the Arthur Langerman Foundation is inseparable from the biography of its founder and his extraordinary collection of visual antisemitic artifacts. For most of his life, Arthur Langerman collected anti-Jewish imagery of various kinds, ultimately compiling an impressive archive on the history of visual antisemitism. After collecting materials primarily for private purposes for many years, he decided, in light of an increase in antisemitic statements, attitudes and incidents in the 2010s, to transfer his collection to a foundation with the aim of raising awareness of the dangers of antisemitism and counteracting its resurgence.
Due to a relationship of trust developed over the years, Arthur Langerman announced in October 2017 his intention to donate his collection to the Center for Research on Antisemitism (Zentrum für Antisemitismusforschung – ZfA) at Technische Universität Berlin. The condition for doing so was that the Center for Research on Antisemitism had to provide a suitable location for the materials, as well as the organizational and personnel structures necessary for their use as a research and educational resource.
With the support of TU Berlin, the Center for Research on Antisemitism succeeded over the months that followed in gaining the backing of political decision-makers for the project: The State of Berlin committed to financing positions for the establishment of an archive and to enable the professional storage of the items and their use for research, exhibitions and educational work.
On 20 March 2019, at a ceremony in the atrium of Technische Universität Berlin, Arthur Langerman, Berlin’s governing mayor Michael Müller, TU president Christian Thomsen, ZfA director Stefanie Schüler-Springorum and deputy director Uffa Jensen announced the founding of the “Arthur Langerman Archive for the Study of Visual Antisemitism Foundation” (Arthur Langerman Foundation). The foundation is a non-profit, informal foundation; it is under the trusteeship of Technische Universität Berlin, and its foundation assets consist of the Arthur Langerman Collection.
Arthur Langerman attaches specific hopes to his choice of Berlin as the new home for his collection:
Berlin was the logical choice. It means the collection is returning to the source of evil. At the same time, I believe that Germany is the only country in Europe that has faced up to its history and learned its lessons from that history. For me, this fact is linked to my great hope that Germany and Berlin become pioneers in the fight against antisemitism and for democracy!
The Foundation’s Purpose
The main purpose of the Arthur Langerman Foundation is to preserve, conduct research into and make practical use of the Langerman Collection, which is an irrefutable testament to the long history of animosity towards Jews. The Langerman Collection represents a significant element of European – especially German – cultural heritage and a vivid expression of our historical responsibility. At the same time, it holds immense potential for research and remembrance work, as well as for the civic promotion and defense of democracy.
We wish to use the materials from the Langerman Collection to advance the scholarly debate on visual antisemitism, to sensitize current and future generations to the manifestations of antisemitic stereotypes and to their dangers, and contribute to the fight against antisemitism. To this end, the “Arthur Langerman Archive for the Study of Visual Antisemitism” (ALAVA) is being established at the Center for Research on Antisemitism at Technische Universität Berlin. In the coming years, the archive will make the Langerman Collection available for international research and pedagogical work and will also develop its own research projects and international exhibitions on the history of visual antisemitism. In addition, ALAVA will continue to collect materials in the genre of visual antisemitism, with the goal of documenting visual antisemitica from the past and present, and making its collection available for research and educational purposes.