Online Event in cooperation with the Wiener Holocaust Library London
19.00 - 20.00

The Institute for the History of the German Jews and the Wiener Holocaust Library are delighted to co-host this event with Simon May, author of How to be a Refugee: The Gripping Story of How One Family Hid Their Jewish Origins to Survive the Nazis. In his book, May embarks on a quest to uncover the lives of three sisters – his mother and his two aunts – as well as the secrets of a grandfather he never knew. The women’s very different trajectories included conversion to Catholicism, marriage into the German aristocracy, securing ‘Aryan’ status with high-ranking help from inside Hitler’s regime, and engagement to a card-carrying Nazi. Even after his mother fled to London from Nazi Germany and Hitler had been defeated, her instinct for self-concealment didn’t abate.

Following the early death of his father, also a German-Jewish refugee, May was raised a Catholic and forbidden to identify as Jewish or German or British. His haunting story forcefully illuminates questions of belonging and home – questions that continue to press in on us today.

Professor Simon May is Visiting Professor of Philosophy at King’s College London. His research interests lie in ethics, philosophy of the emotions, questions of identity and belonging, and German 19th and 20th Century thought, especially the work of Schopenhauer, Nietzsche and Heidegger. His monographs include Nietzsche’s Ethics and his War on “Morality” (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999); Love: A History (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2011); Love: A New Understanding of an Ancient Emotion (New York: Oxford University Press, 2019), and The Power of Cute (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2019).

Dr. Toby Simpson, the Director of the Wiener Holocaust Library, will lead the conversation with Simon May. Dr. Kim Wünschmann, the Director of the Institute for the History of the German Jews, will deliver concluding remarks.

The event will be held on Zoom between 19:00–20:00 o’clock Hamburg time. Please register here:

The event will be recorded. If you would like to ask a question during the event, please type your question into the chat function, and we will endeavour to answer as many questions as possible during the Q&A. Your webcam will not be seen during this event.