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mahJ : Erwin Blumenfeld : The Tribulations


“I thought I was the victim of a collective hallucination: neither France nor I could have fallen so low.“
Erwin Blumenfeld, Jadis et Daguerre – eds. Babel, 2022

In the summer of 1939, Blumenfeld traveled to New York and signed a contract with Harper’s Bazaar to follow Parisian fashion. He returned to France in August 1939 and was surprised by the war.

A German national (although stateless), he had to take refuge with his wife and three children in Vézelay and then was interned in May 1940 despite his desire to fight for France. His daughter Lisette was also placed in a camp in Gurs. He was transported from camp to camp to the Pyrenees, including the terrible camp of Vernet d’Ariège where his wife and young sons located him.

The family managed to get out of the camps in 1941 and obtained visas to go to America. They were again detained in Morocco and interned by Vichy before leaving for New York, where he resumed his work for Harper’s Bazaar.

The exhibition is accompanied by a catalog published by the mahJ and the RMN, which includes numerous texts by historians, including a text by Anne Grynberg, a specialist in French internment camps.

Erwin Blumenfeld’s autobiography: Jadis et Daguerre, translated from German by Françoise Toraille was republished by Babel, Actes Sud in 2022.

Also at Actes Sud in the Photo Poche Collection


Curators: Nadia Blumenfeld-Charbit and Nicolas Feuillie


Les Tribulations d’Erwin Blumenfeld, 1930-1950
Until March 5, 2023
mahJ : Musée d’Art et d’Histoire du Judaïsme
Hôtel de Saint-Aignan
71 Rue du Temple
75003 Paris, France

Catalog : Les Tribulations d’Erwin Blumenfeld. Eds. mahJ/NMR 2022

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