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The German-Jewish Dialogue Reconsidered

A Symposium in Honor of George L. Mosse


Edited By Klaus L. Berghahn

Was there a German-Jewish dialogue? This seemingly innocent question was silenced by the Holocaust. Since then, it is out of the question to take comfortable refuge to a distant past when Mendelssohn and Lessing started this dialogue. Adorno/Horkheimer, Arendt, and above all Scholem have repeatedly pointed out, how the noble promises of the Enlightenment were perverted, which led to a complete failure of Jewish emancipation in Germany. It is against this backdrop of warning posts that we dare to return to an important chapter of Jewish culture in Germany. This project should not be seen, however, as an attempt to idealize the past or to harmonize the present, but as a plea for a new dialogue between Germans and Jews about their common past.


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Epilogue 233


German Jews beyond Judaism The Gerhard/Israel/George L. Mosse Case Jost Hermand University of Wisconsin-Madison WHEN DEALING with the fate of those people who were forced to leave Germany after 1933 for political and/or racial reasons, scholars of the 1960s and 1970s who were investigating exile concentrated first and foremost on those leftists among the emigres who-with a primarily German identity-devoted themselves wholeheartedly to the antifascist struggle and, after the military defeat of the Hitler regime, chose to return as soon as possible to one of the four Allied occupation zones. Those scholars almost exclusively regarded the time span between 1933 and 1945, or at most up to 1950, 1 as the "time of exile," while they applied the term "emigres" only to those who could still be classified as "Germans" in terms of their political and personal identities. It was not until the 1980s that somewhat more attention began to be focused on all those who, after 1945, preferred to remain in countries to which they had been more or less scattered by the vicissitudes of history. This happened at a time when-besides the question of political commitment, which had been regarded as paramount not only by GDR scholars but also by West German "sixty-eighters"-also questions of personal identity, gender, mentality, as well as professional and family circumstances were increasingly moving to the foreground. Only at this point did people begin to pose the question why most of the emigres did not return to Germany or Austria after 1945,...

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