Holocaust Memorial Lecture 2022

Professor Atina Grossmann (The Cooper Union, New York City) - German Jews fleeing Nazi Persecution: Trauma, Privilege, and Adventure in the “Orient"

This lecture examines the intensely ambivalent and paradoxical experiences, sensibilities, and emotions of bourgeois Jews who found refuge in Iran after 1933. Uprooted and with only an inchoate anxious sense of their families’ fate or what their future held, they were also oddly privileged as adventurous Europeans in an exotic quasi-colonial “Orient.” In flight from homelands that had condemned them as racially inferior they carried with them a fraught sense of cultural superiority as well as a cosmopolitan curiosity about the multicultural worlds they encountered while living in “global transit.”Drawing on archival sources and an extensive collection of family memorabilia, photographs, and correspondence, the talk probes refugees’ understanding of their own unstable position, the changing geopolitical situation, and emerging revelations about the destruction of European Jewry. It highlights the significance of gender and age and the challenges of narrating a family story folded into a larger historical “remapping” of war, Holocaust, empire, and displacement.

Atina Grossmann is Professor of History at the Cooper Union in New York City and the author and editor of several books on film on Holocaust and Jewish history.

The Holocaust Memorial Lecture 2022 is organized jointly by the Stanley Burton Centre for Holocaust and Genocide Studies at the University of Leicester/UK and the Institute for the History of the German Jews, Hamburg/Germany.