»The Bicycle«

»8 Objects – 8 Fates« – panel 2

The ladies’ bicycle, a 1920 model, belonged to the lawyer and survivor Dr. Horst Berkowitz (1898-1983). It had most of its components exchanged over the years because of wear and tear. Today, only the frame and parts of the break are in its original state.

Personal objects of the murdered Gerhard Berkowitz, his wife Else, and their daughter Birgit have not been preserved. The bicycle is part of the legacy of the only survivor of the family in Germany. Symbolically, it connects Jewish life in Hannover, prior to, during, and after the National Socialist persecution.


Horst Berkowitz lived, together with Gerhard Berkowitz and his family, on Erwinstraße 3. The entire family was transferred to the “Jews’ House (German: Judenhaus) Ellernstraße 16” in September 1941. Jews were prohibited to use bicycles or the tram. With a special permit by the Gestapo, Berkowitz was authorized - from 1940 onwards - to cycle to his office at the horticultural school Ahlem, where he worked as a so-called “Judenkonsulent”, providing legal advice to Jews.

Many citizens of Hannover knew the bicycle with which Horst Berkowitz cycled through the city to clients or the court. The enthusiastic cyclist had to replace the bicycle of his youth with a ladies’ bike after the First World War, in which he was severely injured. Into old age, Horst Berkowitz used his bicycle daily. He only switched to walking when the police advised him to relinquish his bicycle for his own safety and that of fellow road users.

Picture credits

Museum August Kestner



Ulrich Beer: Versehrt, verfolgt, versöhnt. Horst Berkowitz, ein jüdisches Anwaltsleben, Essen 1979.

Hans Joachim Brand: Vergangenes heute. Historisches und Persönliches aus der Rechtsanwaltskammer Celle, 2. Aufl., Celle 2004.

Erlass des Reichssicherheitshauptamtes vom 13.11.1941: „Sämtliche in jüdischem Privatbesitz befindliche Schreibmaschinen, Rechenmaschinen, Vervielfältigungsapparate, Fahrräder, Photoapparate und Ferngläser sind zu erfassen und abzuliefern.“


Exhibition: 8 Objects – 8 Fates
Duration: From 11th December 2016 to 7th January 2017
Location: Bürgersaal, Neues Rathaus, Hannover
Panel: 2 from 10 – The Bicycle
Size: 650 x 2050 mm
Technique: Digital print on Alu-Dibond