Literarische Identitätskonstruktionen und das Verhältnis zu Deutschland in Ausgesuchten Werken Zeitgenössischer Jüdischer Schriftstellerinnen Deutscher Sprache
AuthorHeiss, Lydia Helene
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractA declaration of her love for Germany by the Jewish author Lena Gorelik in her semi-autobiographical text Lieber Mischa (Dear Mischa 2011) has led me to ask whether the Holocaust is still the point of reference and central characteristic of the self-conception of the contemporary or third generation of Jewish writers in Germany after 1945. In addition to Gorelik's text, this study analyzes Katja Petrowskaja's Maybe Esther (2014) and Olga Grjasnowa's All Russians Love Birch Trees (2012). The three Jewish women writers immigrated from Eastern Europe, live in Germany, and write in German. I show that their texts belong to the genre of autofiction. The third generation of authors, publishing after 2010, is part of the ‘new’ German Jewry, which is composed mainly of immigrants from the former Soviet Union and their children – a fact that significantly influences contemporary Jewish identity in Germany. I argue that the authors voice their desire for ‘normalization’ in the German-Jewish relationship in these autofictional books: The texts show that, generally speaking, the Holocaust is no longer the central characteristic of Jewish identity in Germany, but rather a request for a peaceful, undisturbed, ‘normal’ life in Germany. My analysis of the literary identities the authors constructed for their protagonists sheds light on current trends in contemporary Jewish life in Germany and demonstrates that they reject the special status assigned to them as ‘victims of the Holocaust’ or as ‘exotic,’ both in the sense that they are seen as representatives of the Jewish minority and as ‘immigrants’ from the former USSR. This ascription of ‘otherness’ nourishes both philo- and anti-Semitic discrimination. Although the novels mark the Holocaust as an event that should never be forgotten, it is not history but rather the experience of ‘otherness’ that keeps Jewish life in Germany from being ‘normal.’ Only if German society viewed Jews living in Germany as unspectacular, i.e. ‘normal,’ would a state of ‘normalcy’ be achieved, which in itself would be a “triumph,” as Gorelik's protagonist puts it, over the attempted extermination of Jews during National Socialism.
Degree ProgramGraduate College