Voices on the death of Bernhard Purin – Munich

The sudden death of Bernhard Purin, director of the Jewish Museum in Munich, caused consternation among friends and companions. The Austrian-born man was popular and appreciated across cultural and political borders. Purin himself was not Jewish, but had begun to study Jewish history intensively as a teenager. In 2002, the Munich city council appointed him as founding director of the museum, and Purin ran the house until his death. Everyone who knew him praised his tolerant character, his humor and his professional expertise.

Rachel Salamander

(Photo: Florian Peljak)

Rachel Salamander, founder of the literature store in Munich, worked with Bernhard Purin for more than 30 years at the Jewish Museums in Vienna, Fürth and Munich. “He was impressively knowledgeable about the world of Judaica objects and found the most remote sites in German-Jewish history,” says the literary scholar. “Judaic studies is losing one of its most profound experts. His courage to place the unconventional at the center of his work has always impressed me, as has his minimalism, trained in Vorarlberg architectural aesthetics.”

On the death of Bernhard Purin: Mirjam ZadoffOn the death of Bernhard Purin: Mirjam Zadoff

Mirjam Zadoff

(Photo: Catherina Hess)

Mirjam Zadoff, director of the Nazi Documentation Center in Munich, praises Purin’s museum work: For him, “Jewish history and culture was a land full of surprising and fascinating stories, objects, people and lives,” says the historian. “The diversity of opinions and ways of thinking, both intellectual and everyday, occupied him again and again. He was a sharp-thinking political mind and never allowed himself or his company to be pulled into an ideological cart. We are losing a cheerful colleague and a friend in Munich , who always had an open ear and with whom you could laugh so wonderfully.”

On the death of Bernhard Purin: Anton BieblOn the death of Bernhard Purin: Anton Biebl

Anton Biebl

(Photo: Tobias Hase/Culture Department)

The city of Munich’s cultural department and the Jewish Museum, a municipal institution, are receiving “moving feedback from all over the world” these days, says the press spokeswoman. The last exhibition curated by Bernhard Purin will open in April. Topic: “Pictorial stories. Portraits of Munich Jews.” Cultural advisor Anton Biebl says: “I worked with Bernhard Purin for 13 years. His sudden death affects me. I will remember him as a proven expert in Jewish history, as a creative exhibition organizer and valued colleague. Seriousness and consistency in the matter, but also humor in it “He was distinguished by his mediation. In doing so, he brought many important topics and projects to the public.”

The city council reports Beatrix Burkhardt, cultural policy spokeswoman for the CSU parliamentary group, and emphasizes that with his exhibitions, Bernhard Purin “told the history of Munich’s Jews and made it understandable and tangible for all generations. He was never didactic, he wanted to understand people. He was not a loud person “He is a human being, but can be heard all the more clearly in his quiet and thoughtful manner. His commitment to the memorial site for the victims of the Olympic attack is just one example of this. With him, Munich has lost an important representative of Jewish culture.” The leader of the CSU parliamentary group, Manuel Pretzl, praises the museum as a “place whose importance we cannot appreciate enough, even in view of the unfortunately increasing anti-Semitism in our society. Bernhard Purin’s cultural work will have great significance even after his death.”

On the death of Bernhard Purin: Charlotte KnoblochOn the death of Bernhard Purin: Charlotte Knobloch

Charlotte Knobloch

(Photo: Stephan Rumpf)

Also Charlotte Knobloch, the chairwoman of the Jewish Community in Munich, is affected. “I was shocked to learn of Bernhard Purin’s untimely death,” she said. “As director of the Jewish Museum in Munich, he not only helped shape the image of Jewish Munich on St. Jakobs Square, but with his tireless work he also gave Munich’s Jewish past a home and opened the door for the public to its own Jewish history . Bernhard Purin leaves behind an extraordinary work that will not be easy for anyone to build on.” Their condolences go out to the relatives and the museum staff, to whom the Israelite Community offers “all the help and support we can provide during this difficult time.”

Andreas Renz, chairman of the Society for Christian-Jewish Cooperation in Munich, has worked with Purin since 2006 on the so-called contemporary witness interviews. “I found him to be a highly competent and at the same time very humorous person who did not focus on himself, but on the issue and the common concern. With him we are losing an important expert in his field and a lovable person.”

On the death of Bernhard Purin: Professor Michael BrennerOn the death of Bernhard Purin: Professor Michael Brenner

Professor Michael Brenner

(Photo: Stephan Rumpf)

The historian Michael Brennerholder of the Chair of Jewish History and Culture at the Ludwig Maximilian University, says: “Bernhard Purin will be remembered by many people through the memories of the exhibitions he organized on original topics, such as Jewish beer history. The collaboration between him and students from our department has produced some very nice smaller exhibitions over many years, including on Jewish life in Munich during the 50s and 60s.”

On the death of Bernhard Purin: Eva Ehrlich from Beth ShalomOn the death of Bernhard Purin: Eva Ehrlich from Beth Shalom

Eva Ehrlich from Beth Shalom

(Photo: Catherina Hess)

For the Liberal Jewish Community of Munich Beth Shalom is remembered Eva Ehrlich, chairwoman of the community board, to Bernhard Purin. It was important to him “to make not only the past visible in the Jewish Museum, but also the Jewish present in all its aspects. From the beginning, he also sought close cooperation with Beth Shalom and facilitated numerous events in his museum, particularly cultural in the festival year 2021: 1700 years of Jewish life in Germany.” She will also never forget “how happy he was with us when we were able to announce at a public memorial service on November 7th, 2008 on the 70th anniversary of Kristallnacht in the Jewish Museum Munich that the star architect Daniel Libeskind for the Liberal Jewish Community of Munich Beth Shalom will design a synagogue. In Bernhard Purin we are losing a friend and supporter.”

On the death of Bernhard Purin: Marian Offman, interreligious representative for the city of MunichOn the death of Bernhard Purin: Marian Offman, interreligious representative for the city of Munich

Marian Offman, interreligious representative for the city of Munich

(Photo: Stephan Rumpf)

Also Marian Offman, who is the only Jew on the Munich city council and now supports the SPD, mourns the death of Bernhard Purin. “He was able to convey Jewish life to Munich’s urban society with a lot of empathy” and “he was at home in Judaism,” says the 76-year-old. “We exchanged ideas about Jewish and other topics for over 20 years. His knowledge was profound and the conversations with him were always enriching and often cheerful.” The deceased was a controversial spirit. They also shared that on occasion. “I will miss Bernhard. May his soul be tied up in the bundle of eternal life.”

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