The Twins and Aunt Ly

A Digitization Project on Alice Salomon's Family History

Project duration: 19/07/2022 - 31/12/2023

Principal investigator: Prof. Dr. Sabine Toppe

Project staff: Filiz Gisa Çakır, Friederike Mehl, Pascal Paterna



The project is about processing and passing on  to a wider audience the family legacy of Alice Salomon's relatives, which arrived at the ASA in 2021/2022. The legacy - some of which was brought into the archive personally by the family - not only provides information about the private life of Alice Salomon, but also insights into the history of Jewish, educated middle-class as part of the cultural heritage of the city of Berlin.

The twins Leonie Hepner (1896-1994) and Maria "Mieze" Hepner (1896-1992), nieces of the Alice Salomon, looked after the family legacy, the documents of which traveled long distances before they found their final place in the ASA. The documents show the history of Alice Salomon's family, which lived in Berlin, among other places, and was expelled from Germany under the Nazi regime. She and her relatives emigrated to Switzerland, the USA, Great Britain, Israel and Uruguay.

This inventory is supplemented by the legacy of Joachim Wieler. His research of Salomon's life in exile in New York made it possible for Salomon's autobiography "Character is Destiny" to be published in Germany for the first time in 1983. Joachim Wieler's legacy documents the rediscovery of Salomon's importance for social work, the international women's movement and the city of Berlin. In particular, his interviews with Salomon's contemporaries, relatives and fellow campaigners, which made him traveled to the USA and England in the 1980s, complete the picture of Salomon and her family. Both collections will be catalogued and partially digitized. This is a prerequisite for making them accessible (also digitally) for the first time to Berlin society, research and the interested public.

In addition to preserving the archive and making it accessible, digitization also serves to convey historically relevant content via various formats. In addition to the presentation of the metadata and - where possible - the digitized material in the META catalog of the DDF and in Archive Portal-D, the family history is told via three other formats. The focus of the mediation is the virtual exhibition "The Twins and Aunt Ly" in DDBstudio of the Digital German Library. Using digitized archival material, the exhibition recounts the family and professional lives of Alice Salomon and her nieces. In the berlinHistory app, a thematic layer on the history of social work is being designed. There, texts, digital copies and audio files are linked to an interactive map of Berlin. With the help of the app, users can listen to a biographical interview while visiting historically significant places of the narrator. Last but not least, project results are presented on the Jewish Places web portal. The participatory website of the Jewish Museum Berlin Foundation makes Jewish history tangible via an interactive map.

Funding: Forschungs- und Kompetenzzentrum Digitalisierung Berlin (digiS)

Project website:


Prof. Dr. Sabine Toppe

Professorin Geschichte der Sozialen Arbeit

Room No. 523

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T +49 30 99245-517