Research on Jewish economic life in post-war West Germany

We warmly welcome Professor Anna Holian from Arizona State University, who will be a Dr. Gabriele Meyer Fellow at the IGdJ from February 1 to May 31, 2024.

During my time at the IGdJ, I will be completing my book about Jewish economic life in postwar  West Germany. Placing modest entrepreneurs at the center of postwar German Jewish history, the book examines how “native” German and “newcomer” Eastern European Jews (re-)established businesses and charts how these businesses fared over the first three postwar decades. The relationship between Jewish survivors and German society is also central to the project. I look at how both Jews and Germans thought about Jewish involvement in the German economy and how Jewish business owners related to their German employees and customers. I show that while most newcomers, and many natives, did not initially plan to stay in Germany, their involvement in the economy was the central means by which they (re-)established roots in the country. I thus challenge the prevailing view that Jews in postwar Germany are best understood as “sojourners,” temporary residents prepared to leave at the earliest opportunity.