B’nai B’rith magazine
A feature article I wrote entitled Jewish German Fashion Industry Flourished, Then Perished Under Nazi Rule is the cover story for the Winter 2019 edition of the B’nai B’rith magazine. It is about how, beginning in the mid 1830s, Jewish German fashion designers and entrepreneurs made Berlin into a thriving hub of sophistication and glamour.
The concept of ready-to-wear clothing was invented by Jewish Berliners and by the middle of the 19th century some 100 Jewish fashion firms existed around Hausvogteiplatz in central Berlin’s Mitte district. By the 1890s a full 85% of all women’s fashion manufacturing companies had Jewish owners and “Berlin chic” enjoyed an international reputation.
By 1933, there were 2,700 Berlin-based Jewish fashion businesses – making the fashion trade, besides Paris, the largest exporter in Europe.
Uwe Westphal, author of “Fashion Metropolis Berlin: 1836-1939: The Story of the Rise and Destruction of the Jewish Fashion Industry”(to which I contributed a chapter), has studied the history of this once flourishing industry and what happened to it as soon as the Nazis came to power.
The central role of Jews in the German fashion industry, and how the Nazis utterly destroyed that legacy, is told in Mr. Westphal’s book. That history has been forgotten for far too long.