Honoring the legacy. Mourning the loss. Finding hope in our history.


The Return of German Jews
and the Question of Identity

Film Showing & Discussion

Wednesday June 21, 2023
Location: Alte Synagoge Görlitz
Time: 19:00

The documentary (produced in 1989) is a firsthand confrontation with the inner fears and the outer realities of German Jews as they themselves reflect post-Shoah history and experience. This is not merely lived ‘history, ‘ it is ‘history’ with a living face.”-Sander L. Gilman. This absorbing documentary takes one to the heart of modern German Jewish history. Of the eleven German Jews interviewed, four are from West Berlin, and seven are from East Berlin. The interviews provide an exceptionally varied and intimate portrait of Jewish experience in twentieth-century Germany. There are first-hand accounts of the Weimar Republic, the Nazi era, the Holocaust, and the divided Germany of the Cold War era. There are also vivid descriptions of the new united Germany, with its alarming resurgence of xenophobia and anti-Semitism. Some of the men and women interviewed affirm their dual German and Jewish identities with vigor.  There is the West Berliner, for instance, who proclaims, “I am a German Jew. I want to live here.” Others describe the impossibility of being both German and Jewish: “I don’t have anything in common with the whole German people.” Many confess to profound ambivalence, such as the East Berliner who feels that he is neither a native nor a foreigner in Germany: “If someone asks me, ‘Who are you?’ then I can only say, ‘I am a fish out of water.'” Uncertain, angry, resolute, anguished-the diverse testimonies of these people provide startling evidence that “the history of German Jews is not over.” John Borneman, an associate professor of anthropology at Cornell University, is author of Belonging in the Two Berlins: Kin, State, Nation and After the Wall: East Meets West in the New Berlin.

Dr. Jeff Peck

Until 2015 Professor Jeff Peck was Dean of the Weissman School of Arts and Sciences and Vice Provost for Global Strategies at Baruch College/City University of New York, one of the most diverse higher education institutions in the United States. Thereafter, he moved to Berlin to assume a Mercator Senior Fellowship to study the relationship between diversity and internationalization at three types of Berlin Hochschulen. The topic of diversity continues to be a focus within his expertise on higher education management. For example, he worked closely with the German-American Fulbright Commission on their new European Fulbright Diversity Initiative (EFDI) and co-authored its subsequent report.  Professor Peck is also the President of the Friends and Sponsors of the German American Fulbright Commission (VFF) which itself has sponsored and supported an important diversity project that brings Germans with minority backgrounds to the United States to meet with Americans of similar upbringing. As Board Member for the American Friends of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, he co-authored its Diversity Statement and recently participated at the Humboldt Foundation itself (along with Ailsa Kienberger of the British Council) in a lively discussion about bringing diversity to bear on all aspects of such international educational organizations.

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