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Contested Rituals

Circumcision, Kosher Butchering, and Jewish Political Life in Germany, 1843–1933

In Contested Rituals, Robin Judd shows that circumcision and kosher butchering became focal points of political struggle among the German state, its municipal governments, Jews, and Gentiles. In 1843, some German-Jewish fathers refused to circumcise their sons, prompting their Jewish communities to reconsider their standards for membership. Nearly a century later, in 1933, another blood ritual, kosher butchering, served as a political and cultural touchstone when the Nazis built upon a decades-old controversy concerning the practice and prohibited it.

In describing these events and related controversies that raged during the intervening years, Judd explores the nature and escalation of the ritual debates as they transcended the boundaries of the local Jewish community to include non-Jews who sought to protect, restrict, or prohibit these rites. Judd argues that the ritual debates grew out of broad shifts in German politics: the competition between local and regional authority following unification, the possibility of government intervention in private affairs, the place of religious difference in the modern age, and the relationship of the German state to its religious and ethnic minorities, including Catholics. Anti-Semitism was only one factor driving the debates and it often functioned in unexpected ways. Judd gives us a new understanding of the formation of German political systems, the importance of religious practices to Jewish political leadership, the interaction of Jews with the German government, and the reaction of Germans of all faiths to political change.

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The Corrigible and the Incorrigible

Science, Medicine, and the Convict in Twentieth-Century Germany

Greg Eghigian

The Corrigible and the Incorrigible explores the surprising history of efforts aimed at rehabilitating convicts in twentieth-century Germany, efforts founded not out of an unbridled optimism about the capacity of people to change, but arising from a chronic anxiety about the potential threats posed by others. Since the 1970s, criminal justice systems on both sides of the Atlantic have increasingly emphasized security, surveillance, and atonement, an approach that contrasts with earlier efforts aimed at scientifically understanding, therapeutically correcting, and socially reintegrating convicts. And while a distinction is often drawn between American and European ways of punishment, the contrast reinforces the longstanding impression that modern punishment has played out as a choice between punitive retribution and correctional rehabilitation. Focusing on developments in Nazi, East, and West Germany, The Corrigible and the Incorrigible shows that rehabilitation was considered an extension of, rather than a counterweight to, the hardline emphasis on punishment and security by providing the means to divide those incarcerated into those capable of reform and the irredeemable.

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Cosmopolitan Parables

Trauma and Responsibility in Contemporary Germany

David D. Kim

Cosmopolitan Parables explores the global rise of the heavily debated concept of cosmopolitanism from a unique German literary perspective. Since the early 1990s, the notion of cosmopolitanism has acquired a new salience because of an alarming rise in nationalism, xenophobia, migration, international war, and genocide. This uprising has transformed how artists and scholars within every geopolitical context assess the power of an international civil society, resulting in a moral obligation to unite regardless of cultural background, religious affiliation, or national citizenship. It rejuvenates an ancient yet timely framework within which contemporary political crises are to be overcome, especially after the collapse of communist states and the intersection of postwar and postcolonial trajectories. To exemplify this global challenge, Kim examines three internationally acclaimed writers of German origin—Hans Christoph Buch, Michael Krüger, and W. G. Sebald—joined by their own harrowing experiences and stunning entanglements of Holocaust memory, postcolonial responsibility, and communist legacy.

This bold new study is the first of its kind, interrogating transnational memories of trauma alongside globally shared responsibilities for justice. More important, it addresses the question of remembrance—whether the colonial past or the postwar legacy serves as a proper foundation upon which cosmopolitanism is to be pursued in today's era of globalization.
 

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Cosmopolitical Claims

Turkish-German Literatures from Nadolny to Pamuk

When both France and Holland rejected the proposed constitution for the European Union in 2005, the votes reflected popular anxieties about the entry of Turkey into the European Union as much as they did ambivalence over ceding national sovereignty. Indeed, the votes in France and Holland echoed long standing tensions between Europe and Turkey. If there was any question that tensions were high, the explosive reaction of Europe’s Muslim population to a series of cartoons of Mohammed in a Danish newspaper put them to rest. Cosmopolitical Claims is a profoundly original study of the works of Sten Nadonly, Emine Sevgi Özdamar, Feridun Zaimoglu, and 2006 Nobel prize in literature recipient Orhan Pamuk. Rather than using the proverbial hyphen in “Turkish-German” to indicate a culture caught between two nations, Venkat Mani is interested in how Turkish-German literature engages in a scrutiny of German and Turkish national identity.
    Moving deftly from the theoretical literature to the texts themselves, Mani’s groundbreaking study explores these conflicts and dialogues and the resulting cultural hybridization as they are expressed in four novels that document the complexity of Turkish-German cultural interactions in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. His innovative readings will engage students of contemporary German literature as well as illuminate the discussion of minority literature in a multicultural setting.
    As Salman Rushdie said in the 2002 Tanner Lecture at Yale, “The frontier is an elusive line, visible and invisible, physical and metaphorical, amoral and moral. . . . To cross a frontier is to be transformed.” It is in this vein that Mani’s dynamic and subtle work posits a still evolving discourse between Turkish and German writers.

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Crowns, Crosses, and Stars

My Youth in Prussia, Surviving Hitler, and a Life Beyond

by Sybille Sarah Niemoeller, Baroness von Sell

This is the story of a remarkable life and a journey, from the privileged world of Prussian aristocracy, through the horrors of World War II, to high society in the television age of postwar America. It is also an account of a spiritual voyage, from a conventional Christian upbringing, through marriage to Pastor Martin Niemoeller, to conversion to Judaism. Born during the turbulent days of the Weimar Republic, the author was the goddaughter of Kaiser Wilhelm II (to whom her father was financial advisor). During her teenage years, she witnessed the rise of the Third Reich and her family’s resistance to it, culminating in their involvement in “Operation Valkyrie,” the ill-fated attempt to assassinate Hitler and form a new government. At war’s end, she worked with British Intelligence to uncover Nazis leaders. Keeping a promise to her father, she left Germany for a new life in the United States in the 1950s, working for NBC and raising her son in the exciting world of New York, only to return to Germany as the wife of Martin Niemoeller, the voice of religious resistance during the Third Reich and of German guilt and conscience in the postwar decades. Upon her husband's death in 1984 she returned to America, after having converted to Judaism in London, and turned yet another page by becoming an active public speaker and author. The title reflects a story of three parts: “Crowns,” the world of nobility in which the author was raised; “Crosses,” her life with Martin Niemoeller and his battles with the Third Reich; and “Stars,” the spiritual journey that brought her to Judaism.

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Culture in the Anteroom

The Legacies of Siegfried Kracauer

Edited by Gerd Gemünden and Johannes von Moltke

Culture in the Anteroom introduces an English-speaking readership to the full range of Siegfried Kracauer's work as novelist, architect, journalist, sociologist, historian, exile critic, and theorist of visual culture. This interdisciplinary anthology---including pieces from Miriam Bratu Hansen, Andreas Huyssen, Noah Isenberg, Lutz Koepnick, Eric Rentschler, and Heide Schlüpmann---brings together literary and film scholars, historians and art historians, sociologists, and architects to address the scope and current relevance of a body of work dedicated to investigating all aspects of modernism and modernity. The contributors approach Kracauer's writings from a variety of angles, some by placing them in dialogue with his contemporaries in Weimar Germany and the New York Intellectuals of the 1940s and '50s; others by exploring relatively unknown facets of Kracauer's oeuvre by considering his contributions to architectural history, the history of radio as well as other new media, and museum and exhibition culture.

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A Culture of Light

Cinema and Technology in 1920s Germany

Frances Guerin

Cinema is a medium of light. And during Weimar Germany's advance to technological modernity, light - particularly the representational possibilities of electrical light - became the link between the cinema screen and the rapid changes that were transforming German life.In Frances Guerin's compelling history of German silent cinema of the 1920s, the innovative use of light is the pivot around which a new conception of a national cinema, and a national culture emerges. Guerin depicts a nocturnal Germany suffused with light - electric billboards, storefronts, police searchlights - and shows how this element of the mise-en-scene came to reflect both the opportunities and the anxieties surrounding modernity and democracy. Guerin's interpretations center on use of light in films such as Schatten (1923), Variete (1925), Metropolis (1926), and Der Golem (1920). In these films we see how light is the substance of image composition, the structuring device of the narrative, and the central thematic concern. This history relieves German films of the responsibility to explain the political and ideological instability of the period, an instability said to be the uncertain foundation of Nazism. In unlocking this dubious link, A Culture of Light redefines the field of German film scholarship.

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Death of an Assassin

The True Story of the German Murderer Who Died Defending Robert E. Lee

From the depths of German and American archives comes a story one soldier never wanted told. The first volunteer killed defending Robert E. Lee’s position in battle was really a German assassin. After fleeing to the United States to escape prosecution for murder, the assassin enlisted in a German company of the Pennsylvania Volunteers in the Mexican-American War and died defending Lee’s battery at the Siege of Veracruz in 1847. Lee wrote a letter home, praising this unnamed fallen volunteer defender. Military records identify him, but none of the Americans knew about his past life of crime.

Before fighting with the Americans, Lee’s defender had assassinated Johann Heinrich Rieber, mayor of Bönnigheim, Germany, in 1835. Rieber’s assassination became 19th-century Germany’s coldest case ever solved by a non–law enforcement professional and the only 19th-century German murder ever solved in the United States. Thirty-seven years later, another suspect in the assassination who had also fled to America found evidence in Washington, D.C., that would clear his own name, and he forwarded it to Germany. The German prosecutor Ernst von Hochstetter corroborated the story and closed the case file in 1872, naming Lee’s defender as Rieber’s murderer.

Relying primarily on German sources, Death of an Assassin tracks the never-before-told story of this German company of Pennsylvania volunteers. It follows both Lee’s and the assassin’s lives until their dramatic encounter in Veracruz and picks up again with the surprising case resolution decades later.

This case also reveals that forensic ballistics—firearm identification through comparison of the striations on a projectile with the rifling in the barrel—is much older than previously thought. History credits Alexandre Laccasagne for inventing forensic ballistics in 1888. But more than 50 years earlier, Eduard Hammer, the magistrate who investigated the Rieber assassination in 1835, used the same technique to eliminate a forester’s rifle as the murder weapon. A firearms technician with state police of Baden-Württemberg tested Hammer’s technique in 2015 and confirmed its efficacy, cementing the argument that Hammer, not Laccasagne, should be considered the father of forensic ballistics.

The roles the volunteer soldier/assassin and Robert E. Lee played at the Siege of Veracruz are part of American history, and the record-breaking, 19th-century cold case is part of German history. For the first time, Death of an Assassin brings the two stories together.

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Decolonizing the Republic

African and Caribbean Migrants in Postwar Paris, 1946–1974

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Defenders of Fortress Europe

The Untold Story of the German Officers during the Allied Invasion

SAMUEL MITCHAM

The year 1944 bore witness to the fifth long year of World War II. Death rained from the skies of Germany, her cities were ablaze or in rubble, the extermination camps operated with cold-blooded efficiency, and the Eastern Front’s guns roared day and night. Hardly a German family had not lost a loved one. Most terribly, the Russian Front’s floodgates creaked ominously. If they gave way, the Red Army would engulf the eastern marshlands—and perhaps the entire Fatherland—in a flood of barbarism not seen since the Dark Ages. Yet, as the Wehrmacht retreated, Germans still had hope. If the men of the Western Front could repulse the great invasion, dozens of units—including panzer divisions, SS regiments, and paratrooper formations—would arrive to thwart the Red advance. German scientists needed at least another year to develop their “wonder weapons,” such as V-2 rockets, submarines, jet airplanes, and perhaps even an atomic bomb. Everything depended on the Western Front’s warlords. Defenders of Fortress Europe introduces the men who had once believed they would conquer the world. By 1944, however, they were trying to throw the Allies back into the sea or just check them before they could reach Germany. The Fatherland’s defense was in the hands of Nazis, non-Nazis, and anti-Nazis; professional soldiers and professional troublemakers; heroes, murderers, and war criminals; the efficient geniuses and the incompetent; the famous, the infamous, and the unknown; soldiers, sailors, SS men, and air force officers—all men who fought out of fanaticism, courage, personal ambition, a sense of honor, duty, love of country, misplaced patriotism, or, simply, habit.

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