With Dresden 5774, the Jewish Community opens an exhibition dedicated to the cartoon stories of the Berlin-based cartoonist Elke R. Steiner, which she created specifically for Vot ken you mach?. Four Dresden residents born in the former Soviet union tell their stories. The comic strips give a vivid account of the various personalities of different generations, in which beyond the question of Jewishness a whole array of factors play a role: the areas of research of a philologist, a musician’s coping with stage fright, and other everyday observations of life in Dresden. Elke R. Steiner developed and condensed the comics from the accounts related by her discussion partners. Although these are abridged stories, they open up wide windows of perception and bring to bear the peculiarities in the lives of the persons she talked with, their knowledge and what is special about the commitment in their jobs and their attitude toward life. Her characters bear the real or new first names. Her stories touch Jewish identity in the way she encounters it in her life.
Elke R. Steiner is a cartoonist who since her story published under the title Rendsburg Prinzessinstrasse – Die Geschichte einer jüdischen Kleinstadtgemeinde has specialized in Jewish history. In 1999/2000 a grant from the Jüdische Museum Rendsburg and the Dr. Bamberger-Haus gave her the opportunity to work at their guest studio on a comic dealing with local Jewish history—the result, published by Edition Panel in 2001, impressively describes the normality of German-Jewish life over a longer period of time in a small town like Rendsburg. Further publications by Elke R. Steiner include Der Busfahrer, der Gott sein wollte after short stories by Etgar Keret in the ‘Jüdische Allgemeine Wochenzeitung’. The ‘Deutsche Ärzteblatt’ published Doc und Doctrix as well as the much-discussed, episodic biographies of two Jewish physicians in Germany, Herbert Lewin and Käte Frankenthal. New short stories by Elke R. Steiner are also regularly published by the Bremen-based comic magazine ‘Panel.’
Since the publication of the first volume in 2004, her second major story, Die anderen Mendelssohns, has been dealing with the “black sheep” of the famous family, elucidating individual lines of the genealogical tree based the six children of Moses Mendelssohn: Dorothea von Schlegel (1764-1839), née Mendelssohn, divorced Veit – second generation; Arnold Mendelssohn (1817-1854) – third generation; Carl Mendelssohn Bartholdy (1838-1897) – fourth generation; Eleonora (1900-1951) and Francesco (1901-1972) von Mendelssohn – sixth generation. The first volume, Die anderen Mendelssohns – Dorothea Schlegel, Arnold Mendelssohn, was published in cooperation with the Jüdische Kulturtage and the Jüdische Volkshochschule in Berlin by Reprodukt-Verlag.
Elke R. Steiner lives and works in Berlin as a cartoonist and illustrator.