Fri, Apr 12
01:00PM ET
Fri, Apr 12
01:00PM ET

lecture

RestitutionMourningandMemoryintheEarlyFederalRepublicLiveonZoom

Restitution, Mourning, and Memory in the Early Federal Republic – Live on Zoom

In this lecture, CJH NEH Scholar in Residence Helmut Walser Smith (Vanderbilt University) follows the postwar story of a group of Holocaust survivors from the small Swabian town of Haigerloch and argues that their restitution claims, while hedged in by legal categories, constituted an early form of truth telling. Focusing especially on the Buttenhausen Memorial erected in 1961, the presentation then shifts to public claims for truth about the Holocaust in the form of early commemoration. Although located in a village, this monument was essentially put up by Jews in New York and was less an act of memory than it was a form of mourning. The chapter concludes by asking when, where, and how the transition occurred to the first memorials erected by non-Jewish Germans. The presentation draws from the third chapter of the author's book-in-progress, tentatively entitled "Local Truth: How Jews and Germans made the Memory Culture of the Federal Republic."

About the Speakers
Helmut Walser Smith is the Martha Rivers Ingram Professor of History at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, and currently NEH Scholar in Residence at the Center for Jewish History in New York. His books have appeared in six languages and include German Nationalism and Religious Conflict: Culture, Ideology, Politics, 1870-1914 (Princeton, 1995), The Butcher’s Tale: Murder and Antisemitism in a German Town (W.W. Norton, 2002), The Continuities of German History (Cambridge University Press, 2008), and Germany: A Nation in its Time: Before, During, and After Nationalism (W.W. Norton/Liveright, 2020). He is also the editor of The Oxford Handbook of Modern German History (Oxford University Press, 2011) and a number of other edited volumes. Over the years, his research has been supported by the NEH, the German Academic Exchange, the Volkswagen Foundation, the Humboldt Foundation, and the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. He is currently working on a book with the tentative title "Local Truth: How Jews and Germans made the Memory Culture of the Federal Republic."

Michael Brenner (respondent) holds the chair of Jewish History and Culture at Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich. He is also Distinguished Professor of History and Seymour and Lillian Abensohn Chair in Israel Studies at American University and serves as International President of the Leo Baeck Institute for the Study of German-Jewish History. In 2021 he was the first recipient of the Baron Award for Scholarly Excellence in Research of the Jewish Experience. He is the author of ten books, translated into over a dozen languages. His latest books are In Hitler’s Munich: Jews, the Revolution, and the Rise of Nazism(Princeton University Press, 2022) and In Search of Israel: The History of an Idea (Princeton University Press, 2018).

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