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MoVeRs: Jewish Exiles Fight Fascism in Mexico

Beth Merfish, an art history graduate student at NYU currently living in Boulder while working on her doctoral dissertation, will share her research on Thursday, January 19 at 7:00 pm at the Boulder JCC.

Her talk, “The Black Book: Exile and Activism in 1940s Mexico City,” is part of Movers: Art and Conscience and Menorah’s exploration of persecuted artists in exile.

 

Merfish will offer a look at the site of the most extensive discussions of the Jewish Question in the history of German Communism: Mexico City circa 1943, where a group of German-speaking leftist intellectuals engaged in anti-Fascist activism in exile. There they collaborated with local artist group the “People’s Graphic Workshop” and formed “The Free Book,” the most important leftist exile press of the period.

Merfish’s work centers on the World War II activities of the Taller de Grafica Popular (People’s Graphic Workshop, or TGP), founded in Mexico City in 1937, and the interactions of its members with a group of German-speaking leftist intellectuals who fled Fascist Europe for Mexico City.  The most famous of those intellectuals are Hannes Meyer, who had been the director of the Bauhaus, and Anna Seghers, the German-Jewish novelist who published the first account of the camps in her novel “The Seventh Cross,” which was a best-seller in the US and in Mexico.

In her talk she’ll focus on the book “Libro negro del terror nazi in europa” (The Black Book of Nazi Terror in Europe) published as a collaboration between this network of leftist German intellectuals and the TGP. Within the scope of one lecture, the book can be used as a window into these communities and the questions they faced in exile. One image in the book, Leopoldo Mendez’s “Deportation to Death,” has been described as the first Holocaust image to be created outside of Europe.

About Kathryn Bernheimer

Director of Menorah: Arts, Culture and Education at the Boulder JCC. The former film and theater critic for the Boulder Daily Camera, Kathryn is the author of "The Fifty Greatest Jewish Movies" and "The Fifty Funniest Films of All Time."

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