Closed Borders

Exhibition on the International Conference on Refugees in Évian, 1938

The systematic persecution and expulsion of the Jewish population in the German Empire began almost immediately after the National Socialists seized power in 1933. By 1937, the Nazi regime had legally discriminated, financially plundered and socially marginalised approximately 130,000 Jews. Many of them reacted to the repressive measures by emigrating, often with uncertain prospects. The international community saw the impending exodus of refugees coming. In July 1938, delegates from 32 countries and 39 Jewish and humanitarian organisations convened in the French town of Évian to agree on a solution – but in vain. There was hardly a country willing to accept additional refugees or even fully utilise existing quotas out of fear of reprisals from the Third Reich, for reasons of political strategy or because of their own racial animus. The conference sealed the fate of countless Jews who ultimately fell victim to the National Socialists in the following war years.
As Europe struggles once again with a refugee crisis, this project reminds us of the circumstances, deliberations and repercussions of the historic conference in Évian. Conceived as both a physical and digital exhibition, the project will stage the show at the German Resistance Memorial Centre in Berlin in commemoration of the 80th anniversary of the conference from July to October 2018, and then digitally on the project website. To provide a better sense of what the loss of homeland meant to the Jews, the exhibition includes texts, audio and film recordings from public and private archives. The exhibition programme is supplemented by a symposium, a series of feature and documentary films, and a catalogue.

Curator: Winfried Meyer
Participants: Irene Aue-Ben-David (IL), Wolf Gruner (US), Roland Bank and others


  • 20 September, 2018 : International Symposium

    German Resistance Memorial Centre, Berlin

  • 26 July, 2018 to 5 October, 2018: Special exhibition

    German Resistance Memorial Centre, Berlin


Freunde und Förderer des Zentrums für Antisemitismusforschung der TU Berlin

Ernst-Reuter Platz 7, TEL 9 - 1
10587 Berlin (external link, opens in a new window)