Negative Symbiosis? Germans and Jews after the Holocaust
This course explores works from the postwar era by Jewish and German authors--both writings and films--from East and West Germany and Austria. In these works we will see differences among the three successor states to the Nazis, including the ways people dealt with guilt for Nazi crimes, but also with feeling victimized by the bombing of German cities and the division of Germany after the war. The Jewish texts stem mainly from the post-Unification era, when many Jewish writers reflected on how their parents felt shame about deciding to remain in or return to the land that had carried out the mass murders of their families and friends, and thus hesitated to claim German identity. But starting in the 1980s, a new generation of Jewish writers in German have sought to define a new kind of Jewish-German identity. Though the complexities of the German-Jewish relationship have hardly vanished, there is reason for hope, based on writings and films of more recent times, that tensions will diminish.
THOMAS KOVACH received his Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from Princeton University. He joined the University of Arizona as Head of the German Studies Department in 1994. His research initially centered on German and European writers from the 18th century to the present, but recently he has focused on Jewish participation in German culture and has explored in his most recent book how postwar Germans have dealt with the legacy of the Nazi past.