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Rafael Seligmann and the German-Jewish negative symbiosis in post-Shoah Germany breaking the silence /

by Beegle, Melissa.

Abstract (Summary)
Christina Guenther, Advisor In the shadow of Auschwitz and the Shoah, the relationship between Jewish and non-Jewish Germans is strained. Many scholars have described this relationship as the German-Jewish negative symbiosis, or a mutually detrimental relationship from which neither group can escape. Considering the tensions between Jewish and non-Jewish Germans living in post-Shoah Germany, why would Jewish Germans choose to live there and what is life like in Germany for non-Jewish Germans? In this thesis I examine three of Rafael Seligmann’s (1947 - ) novels, Rubensteins Versteigerung (1989), Die jiddische Mamme (1990), and Der Musterjude(1997) in order to better understand the effects of the German-Jewish negative symbiosis on life in post- Shoah Germany. Rafael Seligmann is one of the most controversial second-generation German-language Jewish writers because he breaks taboos and negatively portrays Jewish characters in his novels. He was one of the first German-language Jewish writers to write about contemporary life in post-Shoah Germany, but his works have received little attention by scholars to date. Seligmann feels there is a silence in Germany surrounding the Holocaust and the effects it has had on the relationship between Jewish and non-Jewish Germans. He hopes to break this silence by provoking his readers to discuss how the Shoah has affected their lives. My examination of these three texts revealed many manifestations of this German-Jewish negative symbiosis. Some issues he writes about are philosemitism, how iv Jewish Germans profit from the Holocaust, Zionism, and why Jews choose life in Germany over Israel. While many Jewish Germans see themselves as Jews living in Germany, Seligmann supports the existence of a hybrid German-Jewish identity. I concluded that these three works support the existence of both a negative German-Jewish symbiosis and a hybrid German-Jewish identity. Consequently, I posit that a German- Jewish negative symbiosis – German-Jewish hybrid identity continuum is a more accurate description of Seligmann’s portrayal of life in post-Shoah Germany. This is based upon my findings that each character in Seligmann’s novels reacts to the impact the Shoah has had on his/her life differently. This continuum allows for this variation more effectively than previous constructs in German-Jewish negative symbiosis discourse. For my grandmother, a truly inspiring woman. v vi
Bibliographical Information:

Advisor:

School:Bowling Green State University

School Location:USA - Ohio

Source Type:Master's Thesis

Keywords:seligmann rafael holocaust jewish 1939 1945 in literature jews german

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