What was it like to live as a young Jew in Berlin during the Nazi deportations? This exhibition details the life of Manfred Lewin, a young Jew who was active in one of Berlin’s Zionist youth groups until his deportation to and murder in Auschwitz-Birkenau. Manfred recorded these turbulent times in a small, hand-made book that he gave to his Jewish friend and gay companion, Gad Beck. Mr. Beck, a Holocaust survivor who again lives in Berlin, donated the booklet to the Museum in December 1999. The exhibition centers around the 17-page artifact, which illustrates the daily life of the two friends, their youth group, and the culture in which they lived.
To understand why Manfred Lewin, a young Jew in Nazi Berlin, wrote this book in 1941 for his friend Gad Beck – to understand why Gad, 19 and Jewish, risked his life attempting to save Manfred from deportation – read these words from the play that brought them together. German writer Friedrich von Schiller’s Don Carlos: No Matter what you plan on doing, will you promise to undertake no act without your friend? Will you make me this promise? Friendship, valor, and the fight for freedom were the ideals of this 18th-century German drama. In 1941, Gad and Manfred played the starring roles in their Jewish youth group’s reading of the play.