Menorah from iconic photo with Nazi flag to be lit at Berlin Hanukkah ceremony

Candle-lighting event will be held with photographer’s grandchildren and German president on second night of holiday, 90 years after family fled looming genocide

Michael Horovitz is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel

The iconic photo of a Hanukkah menorah with Nazi flags waving across the road, taken by Rachel Posner, wife of then-Kiel Rabbi Akiva Posner, in Kiel, Germany, 1931. (Courtesy)
The iconic photo of a Hanukkah menorah with Nazi flags waving across the road, taken by Rachel Posner, wife of then-Kiel Rabbi Akiva Posner, in Kiel, Germany, 1931. (Courtesy)

A Hanukkah menorah captured in a famous 1931 photograph symbolizing the defiance of German Jews against rising Nazi powers will be lit in Berlin on Monday, almost 90 years after its owners fled Germany for British Mandatory Palestine.

The picture, taken by Rachel Posner, wife of Rabbi Akiva Posner, shows the candelabra sitting on a window ledge of their home in Kiel overlooking a building across the street adorned with Nazi flags.

The menorah, borrowed by the couple’s descendants from its permanent home at Yad Vashem memorial museum in Jerusalem, will be lit at sundown in Berlin on the second night of Hanukkah, in the presence of the Posners’ grandchildren and Germany’s President Frank-Walter Steinmeier.

Before its journey to Berlin, the menorah was displayed for three days in an exhibit at Kiel’s municipal museum delving into the history of Jewish life in the city, with the Posners’ story taking center stage.

The original photo and the camera that took the image are also on display at the exhibit.

On the back of the iconic photo, Rachel wrote in German: “Hanukkah 5692, ‘Death to Judah,’ So the flag says, ‘Judah will live forever,’ So the light answers.’”

Rabbi Posner, who served as Kiel’s rabbi from 1924 to 1933, was an outspoken critic of the surge of antisemitic sentiment in the city and urged Jews to flee Germany.

The Posners ultimately escaped with their three children in 1933 and arrived in Palestine in 1934.

The photo first gained attention after Rachel answered a request broadcast by the Kiel museum in 1974, calling for artifacts telling the story of everyday Jewish life in the city.

“Rachel sent them around 17 of her photographs of everyday life,” Yehuda, one of the Posners’ grandsons, told The Guardian. “The window picture was just one of them but is the one that most struck a chord with people.”

The photo then went “on its own journey,” Yehuda said, appearing in publications worldwide and becoming a symbol of defiance against Nazism.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

Most Popular
read more: