Museum des Kapitalismus by Talulah Geheim and Kate Nixon

Going into this museum, I thought it would be well-funded like some of the other ones we have gone to this block. I did question the opening hours, as it was only open for two hours a day, and it was labeled temporarily closed on Google. What a surprise that a museum about the harmful impacts of capitalism in a capitalist country would not be well-funded! A majority of the displays were introductory, however, accessible and engaging to anyone unfamiliar with critiques of capitalism. Just like race, gender and sexuality, class is another social status that is used to oppress people, and we have discussed the ways intersectionality considers class along with race, gender, and sexuality. During our Jewish History walking tour, we touched on the topic of people who have the privilege to flee and seek refuge, during the Holocaust that was typically wealthy men. A prime example of this is Fazali Taylan, a rich Turkish businessman discussed in “Turk and Jew in Berlin: The First Turkish Migration to Germany and the Shoah” by Marc David Baer. Turkish people were also sent to concentration camps during the Nazi regime. During this time, the Schutzstaffel (or SS) offered the repatriation multiple times to the Turkish government for thousands of people. The Turkish government did not seem to care until it was Taylan, a Turkish migrant with Jewish ancestry. Because of his assets and business exporting German technical goods to Turkey, Turkey actively intervened to save Taylan’s life. While we often hear the stories of the rich like Taylan, the stories of the poor are often overlooked. Grassroots movements and organizations are the wheels for change, yet once the change occurs, the government takes all credit for creating such an “amazing society.” This was also discussed during the Jewish History walking tour when we learned Germany was being praised for being a country that recognizes its own past, but that was only done after the grassroots movements for Holocaust recognition in the 1970s.

by Talulah Geheim

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Kate Nixon

On our penultimate day of the course and after a walking tour focused on the history of poverty and solidarity in Berlin, we visited the Museum des Kapitalismus (Museum of Capitalism). While the museum was on the smaller side, it was packed with interactive exhibits that often made you work for the knowledge (clever!). As a visual learner, I really enjoyed the visual explanations of capitalism—most of the details about how capitalism functions as a system of oppression had concrete examples that were easily digestible. The one section of the museum I especially appreciated was the visualization of intersectionality, a concept coined by American civil rights advocate Kimberlé Crenshaw that “is a metaphor for understanding the ways that multiple forms of inequality or disadvantage sometimes compound themselves and create obstacles that often are not understood among conventional ways of thinking.” This specific display let each person place planks, such as sexism, classism, and racism, that divided pegs that represented people into sections. These sections represent how multiply marginalized groups face different forms of oppression based on how their identities intersect. These intersecting identities create unique experiences that cannot be universalized based on one sole identity category, such as race or gender. Overall, the museum’s displays of how systemic oppression operates in everyday life make it all the more understandable to those who are more unfamiliar with the systems. The museum was also attentive to the specific ways in which capitalism functions in Germany, which I think is especially relevant for locals who may stop in and want to understand more about how capitalism functions here. Particularly after our walking tour that morning, the museum was a great explanation and insight into how people are forced into poverty that is often generational, and it helped me understand how state structures often perpetuate these conditions.

Kate Nixon is a rising senior pursuing a double major in Feminist & Gender Studies and Psychology, with an interest in finding where the two intersect and how they can inform each other. Raised in Maryland and Kansas City, Kate enjoys being in nature and exploring new places. When not working on classwork or the Colorado College newspaper, you can find Kate with friends making art or reading queer and feminist books in various coffee shops.

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