The vast majority of Jews who had escaped Nazi Germany had no interest in a return to their former home country after 1945. Most rebuilt their lives elsewhere, far from the place they now associated mainly with persecution, violence and murder.
Yet some chose to return and to rebuild their lives in Germany, out of a variety of reasons. Many looked fearful at the future; the past still looming strongly. Could they feel at home after their experiences of persecution, the theft of their property, and the murder of relatives and friends? In this talk, I will look at the myriad, highly individual responses to this question and shed light on the various ways in which German Jewish returnees reclaimed their home in the immediate aftermath of the Holocaust in both East and West Germany.
Anna Koch is the Montague Burton Postdoctoral Fellow in Jewish Studies at the University of Leeds. She received her PhD from New York University in May 2015 and has taught European and Jewish history at the Universities of York, Southampton and University College London. She is currently completing her book manuscript Home after Fascism: Italian and German Jews after the Holocaust. Her research has been supported by the British Academy, the Social Science Research Council, the Studienstiftung des Deutschen Volkes, the Memorial Foundation for Jewish Culture, and the European Holocaust Research Infrastructure, among others. She has held fellowships at the Center for Jewish History in New York City and the German Historical Institute in Rome, and in 2017/18 she was a postdoctoral research fellow with the Fondation pour la Mémoire de la Shoah.