The registered association Mendelssohn-Gesellschaft e.V., a non-profit association under the patronage of Maestro Daniel Barenboim, has made it its task to bring the history of the “Mendelssohn quarter” to life for the general public. It does so by organizing concerts, exhibitions, panel discussions, lectures, and guided tours in the area around the Gendarmenmarkt. The association’s program of events ties in with the most important among the objectives of the association: to study the Mendelssohn family and to tell its story by scientific publications and by collecting documents as well as objects of cultural and historical interest.
It is intended to have the “Remise” carriage house located at the back of the best preserved Mendelssohn location in Berlin, the Mendelssohn Bank, serve as a place of commemoration under the name “Mendelssohn-Forum Berlin”. Its focus is on “Civic Responsibility – Then and Now”. The exhibition “The Mendelssohn Family in Jägerstrasse”“ documents the lives of the descendants of Moses Mendelssohn and the history of their bank in the nascent banking quarter of Berlin, while also addressing the network of their friends and business partners. One part of the exhibition on the “Religion of the Mendelssohn Family” highlights the different confessional affiliations of the various members of the family and thus, how their faiths separated them, culminating in an ethos of civil religion.
For more information on how the Mendelssohn family is commemorated, see also the reports on the numerous projects that the Mendelssohn-Gesellschaft has either initiated or carried out on its own.
A short overview of the Mendelssohn-Gesellschaft.
The Mendelssohn-Gesellschaft was established in the fall of 1967 by members of the Mendelssohn family and Mendelssohn researchers at the prompting of Cécile Lowenthal-Hensel, a great granddaughter of Fanny Hensel. Among the goals the association set itself was the re-endowment of the Moses-Mendelssohn-Stipendium, a grant program which originally existed from 1929 to 1933. Not long after its foundation, the association began to acquire autographs and other Mendelssohn documents, which it then made available to the Mendelssohn Archive of the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin as long-term loans. Moreover, the association has been sponsoring the publication of the Mendelssohn-Studien (Mendelssohn Studies), a journal that has been appearing since 1972.
In 1979, the Mendelssohn-Gesellschaft was involved in establishing the Moses Mendelssohn Prize for “the promotion of tolerance towards intellectual dissenters and between the peoples, races, and religions.” Since then, the prize has been awarded by the Land of Berlin on a regular two-year cycle. The Mendelssohn-Gesellschaft nominates one of the jury’s seven members.
In 2002, members of the Mendelssohn-Gesellschaft developed an initiative to create a memorial site in honor of the Mendelssohn family at Jägerstrasse in Berlin’s Mitte district. Originally, this goal was pursued by the Arbeitskreis Geschichtsmeile Jägerstrasse (Working Group on the History of Jägerstrasse), which in 2005 evolved into the newly founded association Geschichtsforum Jägerstrasse e.V. (Jägerstrasse History Forum). Since 2006, the Geschichtsforum has been managing – and progressively expanding – a permanent exhibition on “the Mendelssohn Family in Jägerstrasse” at the former “Remise” (carriage house) of the Mendelssohn-Bank headquarters at Jägerstrasse 51. The History Forum also uses the Mendelssohn Remise as a venue for a varied and extensive program of events. (Please see the initiative dedicated to “Mendelssohn Sites in Berlin.”)
In 2009, the Mendelssohn-Gesellschaft and the Geschichtsforum Jägerstrasse were officially merged. This served effectively to combine the two organization’s spheres of activity, research and publication, as well as their respective exhibition projects and efforts to raise public awareness of the Mendelssohn family. The name selected for the new joint organization was “Mendelssohn-Gesellschaft.”
Cécile Lowenthal-Hensel, the founder of the Mendelssohn-Gesellschaft, passed away on January 21st, 2012.(Please see the obituary.)
Cornelie von Bismarck, Dr. Thomas Lackmann, Dr. Sebastian Panwitz
Dr. Philipp Demandt, Dr. Hannah Lotte Lund, Dr. Roland Schmidt-Hensel, Prof. Dr. Stefanie Schüler-Springorum, Michael Zajonz