This project is conducted in collaboration with Dr. Stefanie Fischer. Illustrations are composed by the artist Liz Clarke. The project is funded by the Volkswagen Foundation (VolkswagenStiftung) within the grant scheme »Original – isn’t it? New Options for the Humanities and Cultural Studies« (»Originalitätsverdacht? Neue Optionen für die Geistes- und Kulturwissenschaften«).
The Graphic History presents and interprets a rich and intriguing source collection that documents the lives of Jews and non-Jews in rural Germany before and during the Nazi era. Importantly, these sources also record postwar attempts of the villagers to reconnect and thereby to confront antisemitic violence and the destruction of the local Jewish community. Individuals from rural places are too often relegated to the margins of historiography, but our detailed record of how they experienced the tumultuous events of the twentieth century makes for a compelling case study, which is distinct and yet representative.
Harnessing the powers of visual storytelling, this microhistory has two central concerns: to recount the day-to-day interactions of Jews and non-Jews in a time of upheaval, tracing the prejudice and violence that culminated in the Shoah; and, second, to record and acknowledge genuine grass-roots attempts at reconnection in the aftermath of catastrophe. What was at stake for those on either side as the met again after 1945? Did they speak about the Shoah? How complicit had ordinary Germans been in antisemitic persecution, expropriation, and expulsion? And what role did a shared common heritage and feelings of belonging play in these confrontations?
The forthcoming book is under contract with Oxford University Press and will be published in the Graphic History Series.