Germany

Born in Germany, from which she fled to London, the narrator of “The Appointment” pours out her heart while being examined by her gynecologist, Dr. Seligman. Resolutely provocative, mixing sexual fantasies about Hitler with sharp insights into our contemporary society, the novel is a satirical parable over which the shadow of Philip Roth, Woody Allen and Thomas Bernhardt hovers.

Frédéric Brenner has spent the last three years exploring Berlin — a stage for a vast spectrum of expressions and performances of Judaism. ‘Zerheilt: Healed to Pieces’ is the name of the recently opened exhibition at the Jewish Museum in Berlin and the book that comes with it. It features images of equally fascinating and emblematic figures of a strangeness of the Jewish presence in Berlin today.

While anti-Semitism is rampant throughout the world, the Holocaust memory is increasingly interrogated in the name of post-colonial ideas. The latest attack is signed by the Australian historian Dirk Moses. The great historian of the Holocaust Saul Friedländer, in an article originally published in Die Zeit, counters: “‘Auschwitz’ was something completely different from the colonial atrocities of the West.

Fifty-five years ago, in 1966, Jean Améry published ‘At the Mind’s Limits: Contemplations by a Survivor on Auschwitz and Its Realities’. In the preface he speaks of the “a gloomy spell” that prevented him from speaking for two decades, until the moment when “suddenly everything demanded telling.” This “everything” that wanted to be said is first of all a powerlessness: that of culture and spirit in the face of Auschwitz.

Since 2018, Michael Blume has served as Commissioner for Combating antisemitism in Baden-Württemberg. Stuttgart, the capital of this southern German state, has found itself at the center of nationwide controversy since last spring: It is the home of Querdenken 711, an anti-quarantine/anti-vaccine movement spawned in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic which has since made its name as one of Germany’s protest movements most radical, most violent, and most tolerant of antisemitsm.

A certain postcolonial thinking is diametrically opposed to what can be considered left-wing politics and would be structurally anti-Jewish argues the great art historian Horst Bredekamp, one of the founders of the Humboldt Forum, in an op-ed published in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) last March. This text had a considerable impact on the German and English-speaking intellectual and media scene. We take it up in K., putting it in context: within a controversy about the ‘decolonization’ of art and museums.

The Humboldt Forum’s vocation is to host exhibitions on non-European cultures. But this ethnographic museum is now at the center of a controversy over the ownership of artworks and objects obtained during the German colonial empire in Africa and Asia. In this interview with the art historian Horst Bredekamp, we wanted to learn more about a forgotten German ethnographic tradition – and in particular about the contribution of Jewish scholars and collectors within this tradition.

Does the Holocauste constitute a unique crime that marks a turning point in European history? Or should we count it just as another crime that is not extraordinary in itself?…

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Thanks to the Paris office of the Heinrich Böll Foundation for their cooperation in the design of the magazine’s website.