In 'Memory Is the Only Paradise' author Claartje Wesselink researches the exceptional family archive of Isabel Wachenheimer (1928-2010). The main part of this archive consists of 23 albums, containing c. 4000 photographs and some 600 loose prints. The majority date from before 1940. Such a large collection of private pre-war photographs is rare. Not only had photography yet to become an everyday activity, it is a wonder that the photographs survived the war.
Based on these photographs, the book gives an insight into Isabel Wachenheimer's life against the background of the history of European Jews in the 20th century. For besides being valuable in its own right, this photographic legacy also sheds light on issues of wider relevance in that turbulent history: emancipation and assimilation, anti-Semitism and genocide, flight and diaspora, Zionism and the pursuit of meaning and identity after the war.
The Manfred and Hanna Heiting Fund enables young researchers from all over the world to explore the photography collection of the Rijksmuseum. The results of these studies are presented each year in the series Rijksmuseum Studies in Photography, whose publication is also generously made possible by the Manfred and Hanna Heiting Fund.