Internship Experience at the Jewish Museum in Berlin


Wei with a pair of women’s shoes found in Auschwitz from Shanghai

One of our students, Wei Zhang, from China has recently completed an internship with the Jewish Museum in Berlin. His research revolved around Jews in Shanghai during the Holocaust. Wei helped the museum translate documents from Chinese to German and English, bringing to life stories that were otherwise lost in archives. He’s written about some of his experiences in the museum’s blog. Here’s the link to the blog post:


Wei has also written about his experience through our blog, read more here:


Internship: Jewish Museum Berlin

This article was written by Wei (Aaron) Zhang: 

I had the honor to participate in a 4-week internship at Jewish Museum Berlin, one of the largest and best Jewish museums in the world, working with the team for the new permanent exhibition. It has been a wonderful enrichment for my Holocaust Studies in the University of Haifa.


Wei working with artifacts from the Jewish Museum Berlin.

Because my internship was very short I consulted with my tutor and other colleagues in the museum and we decided to make the internship two major parts: learning and contributing. My first project was to get a general picture how a large museum like this works, especially when it comes to teamwork for the permanent exhibition, and gain a better understanding of the Jewish culture and history through all the resources in Berlin and nearby; second, I worked in the archives related to Shanghai and contributed to it.


Artifacts relating to Shanghai in the Jewish Museum.

Last year while I was attending a curating lecture during a four-day study with my classmates at Yad Vashem I was attracted to an artifact which was not yet shown to the public – a red scarf from Ravensbrück concentration camp with a Chinese signature at the bottom.


The Red Scarf from the Ravenbrück Concentration Camp, the Chinese signature is found at the bottom center left.

After this, I always wanted to know more about the fate of this lady. While working at the Museum archives, I was able to arrange a private meeting with Peter Plieninger, Chairman of the Friends of the Ravensbrück Memorial, at a local café. It was a wonderful experience, it helped me understand the background of this camp so that I could explore more about the mysterious Chinese lady in the Ravensbrück concentration camp.


Wei meeting Peter Plieninger, Chairman of the Friends of the Ravensbrück Memorial.

The story of this special Chinese lady began to unfold itself: she was accused of being agent and was imprisoned by the Nazis. She was born as daughter of a Chinese diplomat, and spent her childhood in Spain, Cuba and China, so could speak Spanish, Chinese, French, English, German fluently. She was stationed as an honorary colonel in the Chinese army in 1920s in Manchuria. She was trained lawyer and pilot. She was the mistress of the feminist American playwright Natalie Clifford Barney in Paris in 1930s, and spied against Germany in 1940s. The keywords of her life like cross-dressing, female pilot and colonel, lesbian lifestyle, resistance against Nazis as a Chinese agent, etc are just so unusual and legendary for a woman in her time. However, for the most part, her life remains mysterious. Until now she was unknown in Chinese historical documents and literature.


The Jewish Museum Berlin

In my internship I also handled artifacts concerning the life of Jewish refugees in Shanghai. Through the online archives of the museum I was able to browse most of the related artifacts. With my knowledge of the Chinese language and background, I found and corrected some inaccuracies in the description or dating of these objects. At Jewish Museum Berlin I was assigned the task of translating some Chinese texts formerly owned by the Jewish residents of Shanghai Ghetto into English. It was so exciting to have hands on experience with these objects, which have survived more than 70 years, and to imagine how these things once were related to the daily life of their owners.

Interested in applying for our MA in Holocaust Studies Program?  You can find the application and more information on our website.

New Prestigious Internship Opportunities at the Jewish Museum Berlin for Students of the Weiss-Livnat International MA Program for Holocaust Studies.

The University of Haifa is proud to announce the allocation of two prestigious internships with the Jewish Museum Berlin. This new internship opportunity is a result of the visit of the Museum’s program director, Ms. Cilly Kugelman’s, to the Holocaust Studies program in May 2015, when she came to speak about the Museum’s history.

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Two German-speaking students will be selected and given the opportunity to work at the museum’s main exhibit and other select projects while acquiring hands-on experience and an understanding of the world of museums. The internships are 3-5 weeks long. While the internships are unpaid positions, the Weiss-Livnat program will provide costs of flights and accommodation in Berlin for the duration of the internship. The candidates will be selected by a committee of staff from the Weiss-Livnat MA Program and the Jewish Museum Berlin. The offer is exclusive to the students of the Weiss-Livnat program. Students to be selected will start their internships at the museum during autumn-winter 2016-17.

Jewish Museum Berlin, designed by architect Daniel Libeskind

The Jewish Museum Berlin opened in September 2001. According to the Museum’s website, “The Jewish Museum Berlin is one of the most spectacular museum buildings in Germany. Since the beginning it has been a magnet for the public, attracting 350,000 people even as an empty shell before it opened in fall 2001. The architecture was undoubtedly the cause for this initial popularity.” Since its opening an average of 700,000 visitors come to the Museum each year. The Museum’s permanent historical exhibition is entitled “Two Millennia of German Jewish History.” In addition, the Museum has rotating special exhibitions, a multi-media learning center, and numerous online exhibitions.


This is an exciting new opportunity for out students to gain additional experience working in Museums in other countries.

Interested in applying for our MA in Holocaust Studies Program?  You can find the application and more information at our website: