The Berger collection is one of the world’s most renowned collections of Judaica, comprising objects mostly from the Habsburg era and region, and ranging from the rare, like a bejeweled Torah crown, to the more commonplace, like a Scroll of Esther in its case.
Max Berger was born in 1924 in Poland. He was the only member of his family to survive the Holocaust, coming to Vienna in the early 1950ies. In memory of his family and in search of the few remaining traces of a destroyed world, he began to tirelessly collect Judaica objects, mainly from Austria and the wider Austro-Hungarian space.
Berger was fascinated by both elaborate, resplendent objects as well as more common or naïf folklore items. By the time of his death in 1988, he had collected around 10,000 objects, which offer unique insight and an impressive testimony of Jewish life in Vienna and Austro-Hungary. Following his wishes, the City of Vienna acquired the bulk of this extensive collection for the Jewish Museum, which was then already in the planning phase.The Max Berger collection is currently one of the main collections of the Jewish Museum Vienna, second in size only to the Jewish Community collection.
In 2010, after the death of Mrs. Trude Berger, the widow of Max Berger, the Jewish Museum Vienna received additional Judaica objects that originated in places outside the Habsburg imperial space. This newly added inventory contains 3275 objects.