Out of the Display Case:
The Buchenwald Chair by Franz Ehrlich

// Object Talk
Thu, 16 Feb 2023, 6 pm
Bauhaus Museum Dessau
Open Stage

The Bauhaus member Franz Ehrlich (1907-1984) was imprisoned in the Buchenwald concentration camp because of his anti-fascist commitment. In the construction office there, he had to design buildings, utensils and furniture for the SS and operated in the grey zone between resistance and collaboration. After his release from the concentration camp, Ehrlich became an architect employed by the SS, first in Buchenwald, later in Berlin.

In the exhibition of the museum there is a chair of Ehrlich’s from that time. What does it tell us about the relation between the Bauhaus and Buchenwald, these symbols of two disparate modernist designs? Starting from the chair, design theorist Friedrich von Borries (HFBK Hamburg) and historian Jens-Uwe Fischer (HFBK Hamburg) will approach Ehrlich’s unwieldy story, discuss the connection between modern design and National Socialist politics and ask the very fundamental question: “What can we learn from Ehrlich’s life’s journey for ourselves, our time and our society?”

Prof Dr Friedrich von Borries and Jens-Uwe Fischer M.A. researched the biography and work of the architect and designer Franz Ehrlich at the HFBK Hamburg. The results of the research project include the biographical essay “Gefangen in der Titotalitätsmaschine” and the audio walk “Der Bauhäusler Franz Ehrlich in Buchenwald”.