February 21, – August 17, 2014
M.T. Wetzlar Silversmith’s, established in 1875 – aryanized in 1938

M.T. Wetzlar Munich silversmith’s, established in 1875 – aryanized in 1938

In 1938, a well-known silversmith´s workshop belonging to one of Munich´s Jewish families was Aryanized, thereby consigning it to oblivion. It is hoped that this exhibition about the M.T. Wetzlar silversmith’s will help restore the family to its rightful place in Munich history.

The exhibition features around 200 items from the M.T. Wetzlar workshop together with contemporary photographs of some of its other pieces. Of particular importance to the history of Munich is the fact that Heinrich Wetzlar designed Munich City Council´s official silverware in 1930. Now, for the first time in several decades, this entire silverware collection has returned to public display alongside the City Council´s official dinner service, manufactured by the Nymphenburg Porcelain Manufactory and designed by Wolfgang von Wersin.

Moses Tobias Wetzlar moved to Munich from Hessen in 1875 to build a new life for himself. Not only did he open his own silverware store, he was also a cantor at the Ohel Jakob Orthodox Jewish Synagogue. Wetzlar, his wife and their six children soon entered the ranks of Munich´s middle classes. From 1903, their store and workshop in Maximilianstraße became a favored port of call for customers from the upper echelons of society. In 1907, Wetzlar was appointed “Purveyor to the Court of His Royal Highness Prince Rupprecht of Bavaria”.

The Wetzlars´ four sons fought as Bavarian army officers in the First World War. One of the sons, Heinrich Wetzlar, would go on to bring a new artistic dimension to his father´s business after studying under Fritz von Miller, a teacher at the Royal School of Applied Arts (Königliche Kunstgewerbeschule) who influenced two generations of Munich silversmiths. Thanks to him, Munich boasted several firms that produced handcrafted items of the highest standard, such as the company run by T. Heiden, C. Weishaupt and E. Wollenweber. M.T. Wetzlar was very much a part of this scene, creating silverware known for its distinctive designs and top-quality workmanship, primarily using heavy-wall silver.

From 1933 onwards, M.T. Wetzlar became a victim of growing Nazi repression, as did all other Jewish businesses in Germany. The forced Aryanization of the store in 1938 shattered the Wetzlars´ comfortable middle-class existence. In 1939, they were able to emigrate to London where Alexander Wetzlar remained until his death in 1957. His brother Heinrich returned to Munich in 1956, but would never practice the family trade again. His death in 1974 marked the end of the family line.

Publication

A 216-page catalogue with approximately 250 plates, many in full colour, published by Arnoldsche Art Publishers, Stuttgart, to accompany the exhibition. The publication is available (in english and german) at our Online-Shop 39,80 € .