Rediscovering History: Collecting & Researching the Jewish Garment Industries of Germany & Austria
A presentation by Claus Jahnke, Fashion Historian and Collector
Vancouver-based fashion historian and collector Claus Jahnke is the owner of one of the most significant collections of German and Austrian historical clothing outside of Europe. Pieces from his collection have been exhibited in Vancouver, Toronto, New York and Vienna. Jahnke began collecting as a young man, often finding treasures at auctions and in thrift stores, or, in exceptional cases, from the descendants of emigrants in North America. In the 1990s, Jahnke discovered a pair of shoes at the Salvation Army in New Westminster. Manufactured by Gallus Shoes in Göttingen, Germany—a factory belonging to the Hahn family—the shoes are intrinsically linked to the VHEC’s current exhibition, Treasured Belongings: The Hahn Family & the Search for a Stolen Legacy.
Claus Jahnke regularly consults for historians and other researchers. In 1999, he acted as co-curator for the VHEC-produced exhibition Broken Threads: The Destruction of Jewish Fashion Industry in Germany and Austria, which examined the methodical destruction of Jewish involvement in the European fashion industry in the 1930s and 1940s.