Books by Björn Krondorfer

Released: May 1, 1995

An engaging meditation on the possibility of reconciliation between the Germans and American Jews who are the grandchildren of the Holocaust generation. Krondorfer is a German academic living in the US. Since the late 1980s he has been organizing encounter groups of college-age American Jews with their German counterparts. His book—in part a report on these therapeutic adventures in Germany and the US, but also an imaginative exploration of themes relating to understanding of the Holocaust—is informative and original. In order to break through the encrustations of stale rhetoric that have accumulated around the topic ``Holocaust'' in both cultures, Krondorfer establishes a ``ritual'' setting in which the anxiety, guilt, anger, and other emotions experienced by the grandchildren's generation can emerge and be discussed. Toward this end he has organized summer programs for students, as well as the Jewish- German Dance Theater, which has performed both in America and in Germany. Their performances have been the scene of sometimes productive, often brutally frank discussions of what it means to be an inheritor of German shame or of Jewish victimhood. Apart from occasional incidents of outright anti-Semitism in Germany, the dancers found that some Germans resented bitterly what they see as not simply Jews but Americans opening old wounds, subverting the young, encouraging them to break family taboos by asking questions about the extent of family members' involvement in Nazi crimes. Some Jewish survivors in the US resented seeing young Jews together with young Germans and having ``their'' Holocaust taken from them by the dancers. Such setbacks notwithstanding, Krondorfer found many people of good will in both countries. Krondorfer's book is theoretically sophisticated, but its strength comes from its vivid, thoughtful accounts of his own and his students' lived experience in Germany and the US. Read full book review >