In April 2006, the Jewish Museum Berlin came into possession of the bequest of Elisabeth Wust and Felice Schragenheim, whose love story became well-known through the film "Aimee & Jaguar." After making an inventory of the more than 500 documents, diaries, and photographs, articles were selected and are, as of today, on display for the first time in the permanent exhibition of the Jewish Museum Berlin entitled "Two Millennia of German Jewish History."
Exhibits displayed in the segment "Persecution - Resistance - Annihilation" relate to Felice Schragenheim's attempts to flee Germany. At the end of the 1930s, she had various plans to emigrate, all of which failed. One of these plans was to flee to Palestine with her stepmother Schragenheim in 1939; why this was not successful is not known. In the same year she managed to acquire a landing permit and a one-year visa for Australia. She was due to sail on the Australia Star from London to Melbourne on 20.12.1939, but neither Felice nor her stepmother were able to leave. It is possible that the ship's departure kept being postponed or was cancelled altogether. Lastly Felice made plans to go to the USA with her grandmother Hulda Karewski.
She succeeded in obtaining a visa in 1941, but it expired before she was able to secure ship passage. The American Consulate General refused to extend the visa. The Jewish Museum Berlin shows the affidavit issued by Felice's uncle from Chicago Walter J. Karsten in 1940 and a letter to Felice from the "Reichsvereinigung der Juden in Deutschland" (National Association of Jews in Germany) in 1941 stating that her departure was no longer permitted. Photographs of Felice Schragenheim as a child with her Uncle Walter Karewski, later Karsten, and of his apartment and doctor's practice in Chicago that he sent to his niece in Berlin are also on show.
A second showcase in the "Resistance" section of the permanent exhibition illustrates Felice Schragenheim's life as a persecuted Jew in Berlin and Elisabeth Wust's efforts on her behalf. Among the exhibits is a power of attorney for Elisabeth Wust written by Felice after her arrest on 21 August 1944 from the transit camp in Schulstrasse, Berlin. The Gestapo had taken her there and Lilly was able to visit her several times until she learned on 10 September 1944 that Felice had been deported to Theresienstadt.
A moving account of this period is Elisabeth Wust's diary, now on display. The entry on the day Felice was arrested begins: "The unspeakable that I had hardly allowed myself to imagine possible happened today. My dearest was taken from me: Almighty God, look after my beloved girl and return her to me safe and sound!" Elisabeth Wust's audacious attempt to seek out Felice in Theresienstadt, which ended in her being thrown out by the camp commandant, is also documented.
Further exhibits in the showcase are photographs, among them the famous photo of the two women embracing, taken at the Havel on the last day they spent together. Lilly Wust kept it on the inside cover of her diary. The book ends with an entry on the eve of 9 March 1945, the day on which Felice would have turned 23: "People are destroyed but love remains, even when we have to die. For the last two years I've been able to say: life has been worth living."
The film "Aimee & Jaguar" (Germany 1999) with Juliane as Lilly Wust ("Aimee) and Maria Schrader as Felice Schragenheim ("Jaguar") in the lead roles relates the two women's love affair: In 1942, Elisabeth Wust was a nominal member of the Nazis, married to a soldier of the German Armed Forces, and mother of four. Her love for the Jew in hiding, Felice Schragenheim, completely turns her life upside down. For a good year, the couple lives in Lilly Wust's apartment in the Friedrichshaller Strasse 23 until they find the Gestapo waiting there on 21 August 1944. They arrest Felice and take her first to Theresienstadt and then to Auschwitz and Rosen Concentration Camp. She probably died in January 1945 on one of the death marches to the Bergen-Belsen Concentration Camp or after arriving there. -- www.juedisches-museum-berlin.de
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