MILWAUKEE — Eight female mannequins stand in an exhibition room of the Jewish Museum Milwaukee here, clad in smart and urbane apparel, the sort that might have come from a “Thin Man” film, or something with Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire. The clothing went on display about two weeks ago. The fashions are both text and textile, a story of life and death told in fabric, and a recollection during the High Holy Days of mortality and persecution.
The story began decades ago with a family divided between two continents and two destinies. For the purposes of the exhibition, “Stitching History From the Holocaust,” it also started on the day in 1997 when a lawyer named Burton Strnad introduced himself to Kathie Bernstein, an archivist collecting photographs and artifacts from Milwaukee’s Jewish community