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The University of Southampton
The Parkes Institute

'Home after Fascism? Italian and German Jews after the Holocaust, 1944-1952’ Seminar

Reverend Dr James Parkes at Oxford
18 October 2016
Lecture Theatre C, Avenue Campus, University of Southampton SO17 1BF

For more information regarding this seminar, please email The Parkes Institute at .

Event details

Part of The Parkes Institute's Research Seminar Series for 2016/2017.

'Home after Fascism? Italian and German Jews after the Holocaust, 1944-1952'

In the immediate aftermath of the Holocaust, many German and Italian Jews felt disoriented. When the state had turned against them, when neighbors and friends had turned away, and when they finally were forced to flee, they had lost their home. Now they needed to decide whether to return, to remain in exile or to rebuild their lives elsewhere. This talk will look at the difficult decision German and Italian Jews had to make, focusing especially on those who in spite of it all, chose to live in the former home country. I will examine the distinct ways in which Italian and German Jews narrated their return home, focusing on how they depicted their expectation, their arrival, their emotions, the weather, the food, and the destruction of their hometowns. For some, their return to the original sight of trauma triggered horrific memories, and the place could now only serve as a constant reminder of what they had lost. Others found it easier to reconstruct a feeling of belonging, and described their persistent love for their homeland. I look at the different ways in which Jews in Italy, East Germany and West Germany reappropriated their home. Postwar national myths about anti-fascism in Italy and East Germany helped Jews in these states to reconnect with their home countries. Most Italian Jews believed that the “true Italy” had been only temporarily overshadowed during Fascism, while German communist Jews who resettled in East Germany hoped to realize their dream of an antifascist state in the Soviet Occupied Zone. Lacking a similar narrative, some Jews in West Germany found a niche in which they felt at home by emphasizing their attachment to a specific aspect of Germany, particularly its culture, their hometown, or a political party. Others, in all three states, remained disillusioned and estranged.

This seminar will be chaired by Professor Joachim Schlör .

Dr Anna Koch
Dr Anna Koch

Speaker information

Dr Anna Koch ,Teaching Fellow, University of Southampton

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