Renée Sintenis (1888-1965), Berlin, c. 1929-1932. Sculptor and medalist
The Bernard Simon Estate, Wiener Library Collections.

The Wiener Holocaust Library’s summer exhibition showcases the remarkable work of German Jewish photographer Gerty (Gertrud) Simon, and features many of her original prints from the 1920s and 1930s. Simon was a once-prominent photographer who captured many important political and artistic figures in Weimar Berlin, including Kurt Weill, Lotte Lenya, Käthe Kollwitz, Max Liebermann and Albert Einstein. In the 1930s, as a refugee from Nazism in Britain, Simon rapidly re-established her studio, and portrayed many significant individuals there, such as Sir Kenneth Clark, Dame Peggy Ashcroft and Aneurin Bevan.

In 2016, The Wiener Holocaust Library received a private donation, which included hundreds of Gerty Simon’s original prints, along with documentary evidence of her life and work. The quality of the photographs and significance of many of Gerty’s sitters, particularly as she photographed so many important cultural figures from the lost world of Weimar Berlin, as well as her story of displacement from Germany and re-establishment in Britain meant that this was a particularly compelling collection. This project will bring into focus, for the first time in eighty years, the work of this powerful and innovative photographic artist.

Exhibition Catalogues

We are selling copies of the exhibition catalogue co-authored by Dr Barbara Warnock and John March, with a foreward by Professor Michael Berkowitz and containing articles on Gerty Simon’s work, life and milleu, along with 50 large reproductions of her work. If you would like to purchase a copy of the Berlin/London: The Lost Photographs of Gerty Simon exhibition catalogue please email our Visitor Services team (£19 – including postage).

#FindingGerty

The Wiener Holocaust Library needs help to discover the names and identities of around 70 unknown sitters who feature among the 300 or so portraits that make up our Gerty Simon collection. The portraits are available to browse on our Flickr page, where users have the ability to comment on, and suggest potential sitters. Where possible we have included any fragmentary details that are written on the reverse and have given an approximate date according to whether the portrait was taken in Berlin or London. You can either leave a comment under each image, or email our Photo Archivist with “FindingGerty” in the subject line.

Berlin/London Event Series

The exhibition run will include a series of events designed to amplify themes in the exhibition. All the events are free but space is limited – please register to attend below.

  • Talk: Women Exile Photographers in Britain. John March. 13 June 2019
  • Talk: Gerty, you’re special – but how many of you were out there? Historical views of Jewish women photographers. Professor Michael Berkowitz. 19 June 2019
  • Curator’s Talk: Berlin/London: The Lost Photographs of Gerty Simon. Dr Barbara Warnock. 4 July 2019.
  • Talk: Dancing on the Volcano? The History of ‘Weimar Culture’. Dr Jochen Hung. 5 September 2019
  • Talk: The Face of Weimar Culture. Dr Deborah Lewer. 12 September 2019
  • Talk: The Legacy of the First World War for the Weimar Republic. Professor Matthew Stibbe. 18 September 2019
  • Book Launch: The Exiles: Actors, Artists and Writers Who Fled the Nazis for London. Daria Santini. 19 September 2019
  • Operatic Performance and Discussion: Kurt Weill’s ‘The Tsar Wants His Photograph Taken’. 25 September 2019.
  • Curator’s Talk: Berlin/London: The Lost Photographs of Gerty Simon. Dr Barbara Warnock. 27 September 2019 (1-2pm)

Press Coverage

We have been delighted to receive the following press coverage for this exhibition: 

Part of Insiders/Outsiders, a nationwide arts festival celebrating refugees from Nazi Europe and their impact on British culture. The festival takes place throughout 2019, the 80th anniversary of the outbreak of the Second World War.
Supported by the German Embassy, London.