Migration History, Contemporary History and Contemporary Studies, Jewish Life Worlds in the Hamburg Area

Material and travel expenses sponsored by the Gerda Henkel Foundation

The history of Hamburg’s Persian Jews is exemplary for a post-war Jewish history that is unique in Germany. It began with the immigration of Jews from Iran in the 1950s and ended in the course of the 1990s with the renewed immigration of these persons to the USA and Israel. The migration of Persian Jewish men and women to Germany was favored by the special local conditions of the Free Port of Hamburg and led to the successful establishment of global trade relations, especially in the carpet trade. As a result, the community grew to about 300–400 people, decisively shaping the reconstruction of social as well as religious Jewish life in the Hanseatic city until well into the 1990s.

Research on the Persian-Jewish Diaspora in Hamburg directs attention in several respects to a different Jewish history of experience, based on which both local historical aspects and contemporary historical changes and events, such as the Islamic Revolution of 1979 in Iran, can be contextualized. Thanks to a closer look at family connections, social and gender structures, as well as intra-Jewish discourses, a project such as this can reveal a Jewish migration history that is unique in Germany, uncovering not only the intertwining of local and global history, but also the polyphony of Jewish perspectives that characterized the reestablishment of Jewish life in postwar Germany, even in its early days.

The aim of the effort is to research and present this Jewish post-war history based on textual and pictorial sources as well as through biographical interviews with members of the first and second generation among the group of Persian Jews. In this way, the study also contributes to recent Jewish history of Hamburg, characterized by processes of migration and linking local historical as well as transnational perspectives.

Dr. Karen Körber
Phone: +49 (0)40 42838-2935
E-mail: Karen.Koerber[at]igdj-hh.de

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