The Lahr von Leïtis Academy & Archive was founded in 1995 by Michael Lahr von Leïtis and Gregorij von Leïtis. Both founders have collected numerous documents over many years in the course of their work. The core of the collection includes materials – letters, photographs, writings and sheet music – that document the rich heritage of writers, composers and intellectuals who were persecuted by National Socialism and forced to leave their homeland. In addition, the archive contains documents of personalities associated with Gregorij von Leïtis’ work in theater and art since the 1960s.
Among the millions of people who were victims of Nazi persecution were many artists and intellectuals. As spearheads of criticism and resistance, they were deliberately defamed, banned and silenced. Those who managed to escape often found it difficult to build on their earlier successes in exile. As emigrants, they struggled to support themselves and their families. Those who could not make the leap abroad ended up in ghettos and concentration camps. The vast majority of them were murdered in Auschwitz and other death camps. But under the most adverse conditions, many created works of art until the end, which were often saved in adventurous ways.
The Lahr von Leïtis Academy & Archive aims to rescue the legacy of the victims from oblivion and preserve it. The fates of these persecuted artists make the inconceivable of the Holocaust concrete, their works speak to us, touch us and encourage us today. Our programs are an artistic form of teaching history. With literature and music as visual material, the audience can playfully learn from the past in order to be able to recognize dangerous developments in politics and society today at an early stage and to react decisively to them.
“Ignorance leads to fear. Fear leads to hate. And hate leads to violence.” This insight of the 12th century Muslim scholar and philosopher Averroes also informs our work. We are convinced that knowledge transfer and further education are best suited to break the spiral of hate and violence. Education – understood in a comprehensive sense as education of the heart – provides our thoughts and actions with an ethical compass and widens our hearts. Art helps us to become better people. Education and art broaden our horizons.
Art and education without borders.