restricted access 9. “Irgendwo auf der Welt”: The Emigration of Jews from Nazi Germany as a Transnational Experience
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220 Chapter 9 “Irgendwo auf der Welt”: The Emigration of Jews from Nazi Germany as a Transnational Experience Joachim Schlör Refuge and Promise: Memory-­ Work and the Creation of a “Thirdspace” between Israel and Germany In January 1936,Arthur Prinz published an article, “Voraussetzungen jüdischer Auswanderungspolitik,” in the journal Der Morgen. Prinz, a leading member of the Hilfsverein der deutschen Juden (German JewishAid Society) and editor of the organization’s bulletin Jüdische Auswanderung, took a close look at the existential need of kleine Leute1 —­ individuals, families, and groups of German Jews marginalized and alienated by the Nazi regime—­ to find a home, a new home—­ elsewhere, or even between different places. Since April 1933, he wrote, the idea of emigration has reached even those families who had been “most rooted to the German soil,” and the necessity to leave Germany had become the focal point of discussions in the Jewish public sphere. About one hundred thousand people, one-­ fifth of Germany’s Jewish population, had already made the decision, despite harsh German laws regarding the export of currency on the one hand and other countries’ laws severely restricting immigration on the other.As Prinz wrote, “At most, barely one-­third of these 100,000 emigrants are still in Europe today. A second third lives in Palestine [and] at least a third in overseas countries. In particular, the Jewish emigration is, as far as one knows, spread over 40 states. These 100,000 people probably form just the vanguard of a continued vast emigration.”2 As Patricia Clavin writes in her seminal text “Defining Transnationalism,” the concept, “despite its early identification with the transfer or movement of money and goods, is first and foremost about people: the social space that they “Irgendwo auf der Welt”    221 inhabit, the networks they form and the ideas they exchange.”3 The same is true for memory and both public and academic work relating to it. Memory is not an abstract concept; it is closely related first and foremost to people, but also to specific places and to a specific time. In Israel, the criticism directed toward German-­ Jewish immigrants in the 1930s has long since been replaced by an admiration for the ways in which they tried to retain some aspects of their German and European identity and culture; their language; their love for books, music, and education; and many other aspects of their former life that they did not want the Nazis to take away from them.4 And what was initially described as a failure—­ to completely fulfill the Zionist requirements of equality, adaption (“Einordnung”), and making a break with Diaspora traditions and relations—­ has since turned into a very successful story of integration without complete assimilation. Walking around Jerusalem’s Rehavia quarter, Haifa’s Carmel Mount, or Tel-­ Aviv’s “Rehov BenYehuda Strasse,” we can still find traces of the German-­ Jewish heritage, and parts of it have been wonderfully preserved and presented in the German-­ Jewish museum in Tefen/Galilee, which today serves as a depository for the “material” (letters, diaries, photographs) that document the experience of Jews from Germany in Palestine and in the State of Israel. Memory-­ work based on these sources, such as the exhibition “Zuflucht und Verheißung”5 (Refuge and Promise) or similar projects that study the historical events with the intention to pass on information to, and indeed evoke empathy among, members of the next generations, creates a new space—­ to use Edward Soja’s notion, a “thirdspace”—­ between one place in Israel, Shavei Zion on the shores of the Mediterranean, and one place in Germany, Rexingen in the Black Forest, where the founders of Shavei Zion had come from.6 The exhibition could not have been realized only “here” or “there.”7 Obviously there is a certain uniqueness to the experiences of German Jews in Palestine after 1933.8 But at the same time, the hopes, the illusions, the successes, the disappointments, and all the practical experiences of the German immigrants in Palestine and Israel are not so different from those in NewYork, Buenos Aires, Shanghai, Cape Town, or London. Finding a job, mastering the new language, adjusting to the climate, creating little Heimaten amidst foreign circumstances, thinking about Germany and the loss of friends and family—­ all these feelings and experiences were central to all emigrants.9 Based on my research in Israel, and between Israel and Germany, and inspired by a number of sources that show how families...


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Subject Headings

  • Jews -- Germany -- History.
  • Germany -- Emigration and immigration.
  • Jews, German -- Foreign countries.
  • Jews, German, in literature.
  • Germany -- Civilization -- Jewish influences.
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