The Exilmuseum Berlin: a place of unforgettable stories, a place of reflection, a place of empathy. A place that fosters understanding of the word exile and in doing so takes a stand against totalitarianism and inhumanity.

Joachim Gauck, Bundespräsident a.D., Schirmherr des Exilmuseums

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Herta Müller, Patron of the Exilmuseum © Steffen Roth

“There is not one place in this country where the content, where the meaning of the word exile can be portrayed by individual fates. An exile museum could provide younger Germans the opportunity to learn more on the subject. It could prove an education in compassion and empathy. The risk of flight, the unsettled and bewildering life in exile, the unfamiliarity, fear and homesickness.”

“The focus of the exile museum should be exile in Nazi Germany. This unprecedented catastrophe for those who were banished and lost everything, and the catastrophe for Germany, which expelled its most important artists and its best scientists within a very short period of time. But this period, of course, also draws attention to the refugees who are now finding their way to us. That makes an understanding of the word exile and all it signifies much more important.”

In an open letter to German Chancellor Angela Merkel in 2009, Herta Müller advocated already a “museum of exile”. She supports the new Exilmuseum in Berlin as patron.

The Museum

Christoph Stölzl and Cornelia Vossen about
the origins of the Exilmuseum

The Museum …

… seeks out the life stories hidden behind statistics and abstract encyclopedia entries. With an emphasis on the 20th century, the exhibition focuses on the fates of individual people. They are the actors and bearers of exile history.

… traces the experiences of exile based on specific motives, issues and topics, and thus provides visitors with an emotional, close-up view of the subject.

… makes historical backgrounds comprehensible and in doing so, recognizes emigration from the areas under Nazi government as an injustice which still concerns us. What can we learn from this historical experience for today?

… tells of the forced emigration following 1933, with the knowledge that the century of exile has not yet come to an end. How have flight and displacement become major experiences of our era? What changes in the 20th century have led us to speak of the "century of exile"?

… looks to the present: Over 65 million people are currently displaced – 1 out of every 113 people is affected. What connects being in exile today with that of the past?

… tells how the exodus from Central Europe also became a transnational transfer of ideas. It shows how migration changes cultural patterns in a significant way – an awareness that is of increasing importance for a peaceful coexistence in our globalized world.

The Building

The Museum's Architecture

The Stiftung Exilmuseum Berlin organized an international architectural competition for a new building located on the site of the Anhalter Bahnhof. Danish architect Dorte Mandrup won the first prize.

More information about the competition and the location ...


Statements on the Exilmuseum Berlin

“Really a brilliant idea! All you can do is shake your head and ask why such an important idea was not implemented a long time ago.”
Frank Herterich (grandson of Mies van der Rohe)
“The Exilmuseum project comes at the right time. Now, as stories of refugees and exiles appear in the news on an almost daily basis, our gaze is drawn anew to the experiences of those who were forced into exile or expelled by the Nazis. This dramatic subject has not received enough attention. A museum of exile can serve as a space for shared remembrance.”
Former German President Joachim Gauck
“Nobody has ever asked me about, or apologized for, that deeper meaning of exile—which is, in fact, a bit like losing your life’s center, its binding thread. Now, finally, a place will exist where this question is asked, where these apologies will be made. How wonderful if I live to see it!”
Georg Stefan Troller
“I am impressed by the way the Exilmuseum Foundation seeks to engage with its audience. Every contribution that helps us to remember and to reflect on emigration and exile is welcome—also to do this in cooperation with institutions and initiatives that already exist, as the Exilmuseum plans to do. Expertise and good ideas are needed to convey to the postwar generations, who have, thank goodness, grown up in a peaceful and safe environment, that having a home is by no means guaranteed.”
Monika Grütters
“Forced emigration and exile still shape our world today. For this reason, it is so important to safeguard an awareness of emigration during the Nazi era and to establish places of remembrance. The bitter reality of what has been suffered, the broken biographies…they should not be dealt with only in the ivory tower of academia but experienced and understood by people today through the individual stories of those from the past. This is what I expect from the Exilmuseum.”
Klaus-Dieter Lehmann
“For many, exile didn’t end in 1945. Many of those who remained in Germany during the Third Reich did their utmost to hinder academics returning from exile to German universities in the 1950s. This narrative is part of the story too and must be discussed in a museum devoted to exile. This museum is long overdue. It is fundamental to the formation of German identity.”
Ulrich Wickert
“The founding of a museum of emigration seems more important today than ever. This particularly applies to Germany, which must be reminded again and again of the emigration which took place during the years of tyranny. The impulse and momentum achieved during the intellectual reconstruction of the Federal Republic which came forth out of emigration has hardly been discussed. A newly conceptualized history of the Federal Republic could be established at this level which evaluates the fundamental contributions of emigrants anew.”
Horst Bredekamp
“Exile is one of the most sorrowful of all human experiences; the trauma remains a lifetime. (...) The Exilmuseum will connect the general with the specifically German and extend far beyond literature and documentation; it will connect the Nazi period with the present. It is to be feared that this topic will never end, which is why I consider the founding of an exile museum all the more important.”
Michael Wolffsohn
“The founding of an exile museum is a magnificent project for a topic which confronts us daily (…) in our thoughts, in our encounters with those who have suffered, and in music, which reflects the multitude of histories destroyed forever.”
Eliahu Inbal
“The expulsion of prominent German writers, artists, scholars and scientists belongs (…) to the darkest chapters of German history in the 20th century, and is manifested nowhere more strongly than in Berlin. This is why I cannot think of a better place to make the impact of dictatorship and narrow-mindedness felt in spatial terms.”
Nicola Leibinger-Kammüller
“The horror and shock of the Holocaust was so overwhelming and so crushing that it neglected the fates of the emigrants, the drama of survival (…) What a gift it is that there will now be a place where these stories can be told which should have been told a long time ago – of the suffering by countless broken lives. (...) Berlin needs an exile museum.”
Sibylle Zehle
“Forced migration and exile are issues of great relevance both to the history that we at the Leo Baeck Institute seek to preserve and to contemporary challenges nations are facing on a global scale. Therefore, it is timely and appropriate that the Exilmuseum will be established in present-day Germany. A museum dedicated to commemorating and examining the individual stories and the societal impact of the exile experience will serve as an important lesson around the world.”
William H. Weitzer
“When confronting Berlin's history today, one senses again and again that this city is missing a certain intellectual substance. With the extinction and expulsion of Jewish culture, Berlin robbed itself of one of its essential and characterizing foundations. An exile museum which reminds us of this is long overdue.”
Florian Illies
“In my opinion, however, it should not be too 'museum-ish' but instead more of a lively space in which the past, present and future come together, a space which offers room for discussions, readings, perhaps even small performances or concerts.”
Otto Schily
“A museum of exile is a challenge especially suited to our time, with its networked spaces but also with its many precarious and vulnerable existences! What will be exhibited here is not what has always and unquestionably been a part of it, but rather what reminds us of broken cultural traditions and communities and makes visible the intertwining of our history with the history of others.”
Doerte Bischoff
“I am sure that future visitors will establish a connection to the very current topic of refugees and those seeking protection and asylum, and perhaps even become inspired and motivated to rethink their own outlook.”
Joachim Rosenkranz
“This subject, so very pivotal for German history and the 20th century, has never been addressed as a comprehensive history. It would be irresponsible to not tell the story.”
Jens Bisky


Your Personal Story
Did you yourself, your family or friends flee from Nazism to a foreign country? What stories can you tell about exile, flight and emigration, persecution, life in a foreign country, about farewells and new beginnings? We would be honored and glad if you told us about your experiences. Please contact us sending a brief summary of your story either by post or by email:


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