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Who was Fritz Kittel? A German Railway Worker Decides, 1933–2022

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Esther Dischereit
Room G3, Senate House, London

In 2023, Esther Dischereit created an exhibition in cooperation with Deutsche Bahn to honour the railroad worker Fritz Kittel. In 1944 and 1945, he hid her mother Hella and sister Hannelore, who as Jews were persecuted by the Gestapo and threatened with death in Germany under National Socialism. They were liberated by U.S. troops in 1945. Dischereit began to search for the family of the rescuer and found them in 2019. Fritz Kittel had not told his own family about his courageous act throughout his life.

Esther Dischereit's literary response in 17 text pieces includes other found objects from the lives of her mother, sister, and Fritz Kittel, and they offer a dialogue with those who are now the daughters and sons or grandchildren. False information given at a registration office, illegal names and addresses ... What do we read when we read these documents? What do we see when we look at these photos?


Esther Dischereit lives in Berlin, writes prose, poems, essays, and radio works. She is considered one of the most important voices of Jewish literature in Germany in the second generation after the Shoah. She was honoured with the prestigious Erich Fried Prize for her work in 2009. She was a professor at the University of Applied Arts in Vienna from 2012 to 2017 and held a chair in contemporary poetics at NYU in 2019. Among her most recent publications and projects Hab keine Angst! Erzähl alles. Das Attentat von Halle und die Stimmen der Überlebenden (Ed., 2020); Sometimes a Single Leaf (2020) and Flowers for Otello On the Crimes that Came out of Jena (2022) – both translated by Iain Galbraith, as well as Wer war Fritz Kittel, Exhibition 2023: Berlin / Frankfurt am Main / Chemnitz / Nürnberg.

This lecture is a collaboration between the Leo Baeck Institute London and the Goethe-Institut London.

Reading: Esther Dischereit together with Jonny Ball.

Poster photo credits: ©Abraham Pissarek, ©Katrin Hammer / Deutsche Bahn AG, ©Katrin Hammer / Deutsche Bahn AG