Munich: Bernheimer Haus

Bernheimer Haus

The Bernheimer Haus or Bernheimer Palais counts as one of the most historic buildings of Munich’s old town, as it is considered the earliest example of Baroque revival architecture in the Bavarian city. Apart from its architectural significance, the building enjoys monument protection but also symbolizes the importance of Jewish entrepreneurship in Germany’s past.

Finished in 1889, the building was commissioned by Lehman Bernheimer, a Jewish textile, art and furniture dealer whose customers included most of the European aristocracy, among them the Bavarian King Ludwig II.  Renowned architect Friedrich von Thiersch designed the majestic building, which burned down almost entirely in 1897. After rebuilding efforts and additions to the complex, the Bernheimer Haus was partially destroyed and Aryanized by the Nazis in 1938 and 1939. Forced out of their business, the Bernheimer family was arrested and eventually fled the country. The dealer’s son, Otto Bernheimer returned to Germany in 1945 and restored the property.

Since then, the house has changed ownership several times, but remains a symbol of the importance of Jewish entrepreneurship in Munich’s history, as the Bernheimer company was an influential institution at its time. Even Hermann Göring, a member of the Nazi Party, was among the customers despite a prohibition to frequent Jewish businesses.