Remembering Walter Rathenau, Sophie von Hellermann at Schloss Freienwalde


A hundred years ago, on June 24 1922, Walter Rathenau – Germany's first and only Jewish Foreign Minister – fell victim to an assassin’s bullet. Rathenau was a wealthy industrialist, statesman and aesthete.  He restored the late 18th-century former royal palace in Bad Freienwalde to something like its original glory; “He lived wonderfully”, reflected the writer Joseph Roth, “Among great books and rare objects, amid beautiful paintings and colours… surrounded by the evidence of the human past, of human wisdom, human beauty, human strength, and human suffering”.

To mark 100 years since Rathenau's assassination, the Jewish Country Houses project, together with urKultur, has commissioned a new site-specific artwork which will breathe new life into the walls at Schloss Freienwalde , which hints towards both the life once lived here and a possible future. The leading British German painter Sophie von Hellermann has been invited to use the Schloss as a studio in which to paint scenes from Rathenau’s life in her characteristic expressive style, and to breathe new life into this sleeping beauty of a house by painting directly on its walls. This unique intervention complements  redisplay of the existing Walter Rathenau Museum in Schloss Freienwalde; moreover, it promises to revive his legacy there and – perhaps – establish its importance as a site of German, Jewish and European memory.

Sophie von Hellermann at Schloss Freienwalde from 26 June 2022 and Galerie Wentrup Berlin from 22 July 2022. Curated by Ruth Ur (urKultur) for the Jewish Country Houses project.

Schloss Freienwalde, Rathenaustraße 3, D-16259 Bad Freienwalde (Oder)

Schloss Freienwalde - Preußisches Königsschloss & Walther-Rathenau-Gedenkstätte (  

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Öffnungszeiten: Donnerstags bis sonntags sowie feiertags 11-17 Uhr.

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‘Remembering Walter Rathenau, Sophie von Hellermann at Schloss Freienwalde’ is supported by the Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities’ Knowledge Exchange Innovation Fund.

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ur kultur
All photos of Sophie von Hellermann at Schloss Freienwalde are courtesy of the artist and Wentrup, Berlin. Photos: Matthias Kolb.
Historic images courtesy of Walther-Rathenau-Stiftung GmbH Bad Freienwalde.