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Special Issue "Between Religion and Ethnicity: Twentieth-Century Jewish Émigrés and the Shaping of Postwar Culture"

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A special issue of Religions (ISSN 2077-1444).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 December 2011)

Special Issue Editors

Guest Editor
Dr. Julie Mell

North Carolina State University, History Department, Campus Box 8108 Raleigh, NC 27695, USA
Website | E-Mail
Interests: Jewish studies; medieval european history
Guest Editor
Dr. Malachi Hacohen

Duke University, History Department, 222 Carr Building, Campus Box 90719 Durham, NC 27708, USA
Website | E-Mail
Phone: 1-919-382-9269
Interests: European intellectual history; Jewish studies

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The European Jewish émigrés from Nazi Germany and Europe have emerged in the last two decades as a major interdisciplinary research field.  They made important theoretical contributions  to twentieth-century philosophy and scholarship and helped shape postwar national and international cultures, in Europe and the U.S.  This special issue explores the nexus of Jewish religion, ethnicity, and culture in the émigrés' life and scholarship.  Mostly secular, often paying little attention to their own Jewishness, the émigrés display in full the complex relationship between Judaism and Jewish identity.  They provide scholars with opportunities for deciphering the Jewish dimension in the making of postwar cultures and for rethinking the meaning of "Jewish" for a group denying the significance of religion and ethnicity – their own first and foremost.  The issue grew out of an April 2011 conference at the National Humanities Center in memory of Lilian Furst (1931-2009), former UNC professor of comparative literature, an Austrian émigré to Britain and the U.S. whose work exemplified the role of religion, ethnicity and culture in the making of contemporary scholarship.  Scholars from a wide range of disciplines in the humanities and social sciences are invited to submit articles for the issue addressing religion, ethnicity, and culture in the lives and work of twentieth-century Jewish émigrés.

Dr. Julie Mell
Dr. Malachi Hacohen
Guest Editors

Print Edition available!
A Print Edition of this Special Issue is available here.

Hardcover: 47.50 CHF*
Pages: 14, 290
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Keywords

  • Jewish émigrés
  • Jewish refuges
  • Judentum
  • Judaism
  • ethnicity
  • Heimat
  • homeland
  • dilemma of modern Jewish identity
  • modern Jewish history
  • twentieth-century


Published Papers (11 papers)

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Research

Open AccessArticle Growing up in Wartime England—A Selection from "The Rachel Chronicles: A Kind of Memoir"
Religions 2012, 3(4), 993-1024; doi:10.3390/rel3040993
Received: 18 September 2012 / Revised: 17 October 2012 / Accepted: 18 October 2012 / Published: 29 October 2012
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Abstract
The following contribution is an excerpt from the unpublished memoirs of Austrian Jewish émigrée, Lilian Renée Furst (1931–2009), a pioneer in the field of comparative literature. This journal issue grew out of an April 2011 conference in her memory, held at the National
[...] Read more.
The following contribution is an excerpt from the unpublished memoirs of Austrian Jewish émigrée, Lilian Renée Furst (1931–2009), a pioneer in the field of comparative literature. This journal issue grew out of an April 2011 conference in her memory, held at the National Humanities Center, on “Jewish emigres and the Shaping of Postwar Culture.” The nexus between her innovative intellectual contributions and her experience as a Jewish émigré reflects one of the conference's central concerns: How, why, and in what fashion did the émigrés' dislocations shape innovative intellectual paths and cosmopolitan visions of Europe and European culture. Born in Austria and educated in England, Furst pursued an intellectual career in the United States, hoping it would allow her to break out of narrow national boundaries. The excerpt of her memoir here illuminates how her life's work as a pioneer in the field of comparative literary studies grew out of her experience with language as a German-speaking refugee in wartime England. Her memoir written in the third person about “Rachel” also reflects her dual identity as Jew and European. Part I by Dr. Anabel Aliaga-Buchenau, the literary executor of the memoir and a former graduate student of Furst, places “The Rachel Chronicles: A Kind of Memoir” in relation to Furst's other autobiographical writing. Part II includes Furst's own introduction to “The Rachel Chronicles,” followed by her chapter on “Growing up in wartime England.” (The whole of her unpublished memoir is available to researchers in the "Personal Papers of Lilian R. Furst," Girton College Archives, Cambridge University (http://janus.lib.cam.ac.uk/db/node.xsp?id=EAD%2FGBR%2F0271%2FGCPP%20Furst)). Part III is a bibliography of Furst's writings. Full article
Open AccessArticle The City of Man, European Émigrés, and the Genesis of Postwar Conservative Thought
Religions 2012, 3(3), 681-698; doi:10.3390/rel3030681
Received: 5 June 2012 / Revised: 14 July 2012 / Accepted: 16 July 2012 / Published: 6 August 2012
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (457 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
This article explores the forgotten manifesto The City of Man: A Declaration on World Democracy, which was composed in 1940 by a group of prominent American and European anti-isolationist intellectuals, including Thomas Mann, Reinhold Niebuhr, and Hermann Broch. Written in response to
[...] Read more.
This article explores the forgotten manifesto The City of Man: A Declaration on World Democracy, which was composed in 1940 by a group of prominent American and European anti-isolationist intellectuals, including Thomas Mann, Reinhold Niebuhr, and Hermann Broch. Written in response to the victories of Nazi Germany, the manifesto declared that the United States had a new global responsibility not only to lead the war against fascism and Marxism, but also to establish a global order of peace and democracy under U.S. hegemony. Moreover, the authors of the manifesto claimed that such an order would have to be based on the rejuvenation of conservative values; in their view, the collapse of Western democracies under the weight of totalitarian aggression was the consequence of inner moral and intellectual degeneration. The City of Man therefore called on the United States to lead the spiritual transformation of democracy into a modern political religion, which would bring about the intellectual and political unity of humanity under one state and one creed. This article analyzes the manifesto as a rare window into the difficulty intellectuals faced as they tried to conceptualize the totalitarian challenge prior to the United States’ entry into the war. Moreover, it claims that The City of Man expressed the emergence of postwar conservatism and Cold War ideology, as well as the unique role played by European émigrés in this process. Full article
Open AccessArticle Typology and the Holocaust: Erich Auerbach and Judeo-Christian Europe
Religions 2012, 3(3), 600-645; doi:10.3390/rel3030600
Received: 25 May 2012 / Revised: 7 July 2012 / Accepted: 11 July 2012 / Published: 17 July 2012
Cited by 3 | PDF Full-text (769 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
In response to Nazi exclusion of the Jews from German society on racial grounds, Erich Auerbach (1892–1957), a secular Jewish intellectual inspired by cultural Protestantism and Catholicism, formed a vision of a cosmopolitan Judeo-Christian civilization that reintegrated the Jews as biblical founders and
[...] Read more.
In response to Nazi exclusion of the Jews from German society on racial grounds, Erich Auerbach (1892–1957), a secular Jewish intellectual inspired by cultural Protestantism and Catholicism, formed a vision of a cosmopolitan Judeo-Christian civilization that reintegrated the Jews as biblical founders and cultural mediators. But the integration expunged any mark of traditional Jewishness. Focusing on Christian figurative thinking (typology), Auerbach viewed the binding of Isaac through the crucifixion, and contemporary Jews as civilization’s (unwilling and undeserving) martyrs. In the aftermath of the Holocaust, his cosmopolitanism reached a crisis, reflected in his postwar vision of Western decline. The progressive mandarin who had begun his intellectual life elevating Dante’s care for everyday life and sympathizing with French realist social critique ended endorsing Hugh of St. Victor’s alienation from reality and Pascal’s acquiescence in totalitarian rule. Full article
Open AccessArticle Twentieth-Century Jewish Émigrés and Medieval European Economic History
Religions 2012, 3(3), 556-587; doi:10.3390/rel3030556
Received: 31 May 2012 / Revised: 13 June 2012 / Accepted: 14 June 2012 / Published: 27 June 2012
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Abstract
This essay discusses the intellectual contributions of five Jewish émigrés to the study of European economic history. In the midst of the war years, these intellectuals reconceptualized premodern European economic history and established the predominant postwar paradigms. The émigrés form three distinct groups
[...] Read more.
This essay discusses the intellectual contributions of five Jewish émigrés to the study of European economic history. In the midst of the war years, these intellectuals reconceptualized premodern European economic history and established the predominant postwar paradigms. The émigrés form three distinct groups defined by Jewish identity and by professional identity. The first two (Guido Kisch and Toni Oelsner) identified as Jews and worked as Jewish historians. The second two (Michal Postan and Robert Lopez) identified as Jews, but worked as European historians. The last (Karl Polanyi) was Jewish only by origin, identified as a Christian socialist, and worked first as an economic journalist, then in worker's education and late in life as a professor of economics. All five dealt with the origin of European capitalism, but in different veins: Kisch celebrated and Oelsner contested a hegemonic academic discourse that linked the birth of capitalism to Jews. Postan and Lopez contested the flip-side of this discourse, the presumption that medieval Europe was pre-capitalist par excellence. In doing so, they helped construct the current paradigm of a high medieval commercial revolution. Polanyi contested historical narratives that described the Free Market as the natural growth of economic life. This essay explores the grounding of these paradigms in the shared crucible of war and exile as Jewish émigrés. This shared context helps illuminate the significance of their intellectual contributions by uncovering the webs of meaning in which their work was suspended. Full article
Open AccessArticle Haunted Encounters: Exile and Holocaust Literature in German and Austrian Post-war Culture
Religions 2012, 3(2), 424-440; doi:10.3390/rel3020424
Received: 2 May 2012 / Revised: 11 May 2012 / Accepted: 12 May 2012 / Published: 14 May 2012
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Abstract
In an essay titled ‘The Exiled Tongue’ (2002), Nobel Prize winner Imre Kertész develops a genealogy of Holocaust and émigré writing, in which the German language plays an important, albeit contradictory, role. While the German language signified intellectual independence and freedom of self-definition
[...] Read more.
In an essay titled ‘The Exiled Tongue’ (2002), Nobel Prize winner Imre Kertész develops a genealogy of Holocaust and émigré writing, in which the German language plays an important, albeit contradictory, role. While the German language signified intellectual independence and freedom of self-definition (against one’s roots) for Kertész before the Holocaust, he notes (based on his engagement with fellow writer Jean Améry) that writing in German created severe difficulties in the post-war era. Using the examples of Hilde Spiel and Friedrich Torberg, this article explores this notion and asks how the loss of language experienced by Holocaust survivors impacted on these two Austrian-Jewish writers. The article argues that, while the works of Spiel and Torberg are haunted by the Shoah, the two writers do not write in the post-Auschwitz language that Kertész delineates in his essays, but are instead shaped by the exile experience of both writers. At the same time though, Kertész’ concept seems to be haunted by exile, as his reception of Jean Améry’s works, which form the basis of his linguistic genealogies, shows an inability to integrate the experience of exile. Full article
Open AccessArticle What is Jewish (If Anything) about Isaiah Berlin’s Philosophy?
Religions 2012, 3(2), 289-319; doi:10.3390/rel3020289
Received: 23 March 2012 / Revised: 28 March 2012 / Accepted: 31 March 2012 / Published: 13 April 2012
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Abstract
This paper has two central aims: First, to reappraise Isaiah Berlin’s political thought in a historically contextualized way, and in particular: to pay attention to a central conceptual tensions which animates it between, on the one hand, his famous definition of liberalism as
[...] Read more.
This paper has two central aims: First, to reappraise Isaiah Berlin’s political thought in a historically contextualized way, and in particular: to pay attention to a central conceptual tensions which animates it between, on the one hand, his famous definition of liberalism as resting on a negative concept of liberty and, on the other, his defense of cultural nationalism in general and Zionism in particular. Second, to see what do we gain and what do we lose by dubbing his philosophy Jewish. The discussion will proceed as follows: after describing the conceptual tension (Section 1), I will examine Berlin’s discussion of nationalism and explain why comparisons between him and Hans Kohn as well as communitarian interpretations of him are incomplete and have limited merit. I will continue with a brief discussion of Berlin’s Jewishness and Zionism (Section 3) and explain why I define this position “Diaspora Zionism”. The two concluding sections will discuss Berlin’s place within a larger Cold War liberal discourse (Section 5) and why I find it problematic to see his political writings as part of a Jewish political tradition (Section 6). Full article
Open AccessArticle Erich Auerbach and His "Figura": An Apology for the Old Testament in an Age of Aryan Philology
Religions 2012, 3(2), 320-338; doi:10.3390/rel3020320
Received: 16 January 2012 / Revised: 27 March 2012 / Accepted: 6 April 2012 / Published: 13 April 2012
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Abstract
Auerbach’s goal in writing “Figura” and Mimesis was the rejection of Aryan philology and Nazi barbarism, based on racism, chauvinism and the mythologies of Blood, Volk and Soil, which eliminated the Old Testament from the Christian canon and hence from European culture and civilization.
[...] Read more.
Auerbach’s goal in writing “Figura” and Mimesis was the rejection of Aryan philology and Nazi barbarism, based on racism, chauvinism and the mythologies of Blood, Volk and Soil, which eliminated the Old Testament from the Christian canon and hence from European culture and civilization. Following the Nazi Revolution of 1933 and the triumph of Aryan philology, Auerbach began writing “Figura,” published in 1938, where he provided an apology for the Old Testament’s validity and credibility, striving to prove that the Jewish Bible was inseparable from the New Testament contrary to the claims of Aryan philology and Nazi historiography. Auerbach’s “Figura” should be considered not merely as a philological study but also, and more importantly, as a crucial stage in his response to the crisis of German philology with Mimesis, in turn, seen as his affirmation, against Aryan philology’s Nazi racist and völkish views, of the humanist, Judeo-Christian foundation of European civilization. Full article
Open AccessArticle Karl Mannheim’s Jewish Question
Religions 2012, 3(2), 228-250; doi:10.3390/rel3020228
Received: 5 January 2012 / Revised: 26 March 2012 / Accepted: 6 April 2012 / Published: 11 April 2012
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Abstract
In this paper, we explore Karl Mannheim’s puzzling failure (or refusal) to address himself in any way to questions arising out of the position of Jews in Germany, either before or after the advent of Nazi rule—and this, notwithstanding the fact, first, that
[...] Read more.
In this paper, we explore Karl Mannheim’s puzzling failure (or refusal) to address himself in any way to questions arising out of the position of Jews in Germany, either before or after the advent of Nazi rule—and this, notwithstanding the fact, first, that his own ethnic identification as a Jew was never in question and that he shared vivid experiences of anti-Semitism, and consequent exile from both Hungary and Germany, and, second, that his entire sociological method rested upon using one’s own most problematic social location—as woman, say, or youth, or intellectual—as the starting point for a reflexive investigation. It was precisely Mannheim’s convictions about the integral bond between thought grounded in reflexivity and a mission to engage in a transformative work of Bildung that made it effectively impossible for him to formulate his inquiries in terms of his way of being Jewish. It is through his explorations of the rise and fall of the intellectual as socio-cultural formation that Mannheim investigates his relations to his Jewish origins and confronts the disaster of 1933. The key to our puzzle is to be found in the theory of assimilation put forward in the dissertation of his student, Jacob Katz. Full article
Open AccessArticle Meaning in History—A Comparison Between the Works of Karl Löwith and Erich Auerbach
Religions 2012, 3(2), 151-162; doi:10.3390/rel3020151
Received: 5 January 2012 / Revised: 28 February 2012 / Accepted: 7 March 2012 / Published: 23 March 2012
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Abstract
Karl Löwith (1897–1973) and Erich Auerbach (1892–1957) were assimilated German Jewish scholars who came to America during and after World War II. In the early 1940s both émigrés wrotetheir masterpieces From Hegel to Nietzsche and Mimesis in Japan and Turkey. In these books,
[...] Read more.
Karl Löwith (1897–1973) and Erich Auerbach (1892–1957) were assimilated German Jewish scholars who came to America during and after World War II. In the early 1940s both émigrés wrotetheir masterpieces From Hegel to Nietzsche and Mimesis in Japan and Turkey. In these books, the philosopher as well as the philologist, provide a certain philosophy of history forced by the historical crisis of Europe. The differences in their viewpoints can clearly be seen in their decisive judgments on Goethe and the French Revolution. The comparison first looks at the question what impact the reality of being expelled from the German University of Marburg had on the development of their thoughts. The expanding war and the persecution of the European Jews is taken into account as well. The second focus is directed on the experience both made at the American East Coast and how this might have influenced their later writings namely Meaning in History and Philology of World-Literature. And at last the question is raised which significance the Jewish-Christian background had for Löwith and Auerbach especially for their attitude towards the religious sphere. Full article
Open AccessArticle Homecoming as a National Founding Myth: Jewish Identity and German Landscapes in Konrad Wolf’s I was Nineteen
Religions 2012, 3(1), 130-150; doi:10.3390/rel3010130
Received: 5 January 2012 / Revised: 13 March 2012 / Accepted: 14 March 2012 / Published: 22 March 2012
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (955 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Konrad Wolf was one of the most enigmatic intellectuals of East Germany. The son of the Jewish Communist playwright Friedrich Wolf and the brother of Markus Wolf—the head of the GDR’s Foreign Intelligence Agency—Konrad Wolf was exiled in Moscow during the Nazi era
[...] Read more.
Konrad Wolf was one of the most enigmatic intellectuals of East Germany. The son of the Jewish Communist playwright Friedrich Wolf and the brother of Markus Wolf—the head of the GDR’s Foreign Intelligence Agency—Konrad Wolf was exiled in Moscow during the Nazi era and returned to Germany as a Red Army soldier by the end of World War Two. This article examines Wolf’s 1968 autobiographical film I was Nineteen (Ich war Neunzehn), which narrates the final days of World War II—and the initial formation of postwar reality—from the point of view of an exiled German volunteer in the Soviet Army. In analyzing Wolf’s portrayals of the German landscape, I argue that he used the audio-visual clichés of Heimat-symbolism in order to undermine the sense of a homogenous and apolitical community commonly associated with this concept. Thrown out of their original contexts, his displaced Heimat images negotiate a sense of a heterogeneous community, which assumes multi-layered identities and highlights the shared ideology rather than the shared origins of the members of the national community. Reading Wolf from this perspective places him within a tradition of innovative Jewish intellectuals who turned Jewish sensibilities into a major part of modern German mainstream culture. Full article
Open AccessArticle “Rather More than One-Third Had No Jewish Blood”: American Progressivism and German-Jewish Cosmopolitanism at the New School for Social Research, 1933–1939
Religions 2012, 3(1), 99-129; doi:10.3390/rel3010099
Received: 5 January 2012 / Revised: 7 March 2012 / Accepted: 7 March 2012 / Published: 16 March 2012
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Abstract
The New School for Social Research’s University in Exile accepted more German and European exiled intellectuals than any other American institution of higher education. This paper argues that transnational, cosmopolitan ideological and interest-based affinities shared by left-leaning American progressives and German-Jewish intellectuals enabled
[...] Read more.
The New School for Social Research’s University in Exile accepted more German and European exiled intellectuals than any other American institution of higher education. This paper argues that transnational, cosmopolitan ideological and interest-based affinities shared by left-leaning American progressives and German-Jewish intellectuals enabled the predominantly Jewish University in Exile to become a vibrant intellectual space accepted by the community of largely anti-Semitic American academics. These affinities also illuminate why, despite the fact that the émigrés’ exile was in large part the result of National Socialist hatred of Jews, Alvin Johnson (the founder of the University in Exile) and the faculty members that comprised it seldom discussed the University’s Jewish demographics. The Jewish faculty members ignored the relationship between their ethnicity and exile because to focus on it would have been to admit that the cosmopolitan project they had embraced in Central Europe had failed. Johnson ignored the faculty’s Jewish heritage for two reasons. First, he endorsed a cosmopolitan American nationalism. Second, he understood that the generally anti-Semitic community of American academics would have rejected the University in Exile if he stressed the faculty’s Jewishness. In ignoring the University in Exile’s Jewish demographics, Johnson and the University’s faculty successfully adhered to a strategy designed to foster the exiles’ entrance into the American intellectual community. Thus, while cosmopolitanism failed in Germany and Central Europe, the exiles’ later influence on the American academy indicates that it partially succeeded in the United States. Full article

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