Central European Jewish Émigrés and the Shaping of Postwar Culture: Studies in Memory of Lilian Furst (1931-2009)
The nexus between innovative intellectual contributions and the émigré experience was at the center of the conference in Furst’s memory. European Jewish émigrés from Nazi Germany and Europe have become in the last two decades a major interdisciplinary research field, and their contributions to twentieth-century culture are well known. This conference focused on the émigrés’ role in the formation of postwar trans-Atlantic culture. We asked: How, why, and in what fashion did émigré dislocation, identity dilemmas, and Holocaust experience shape intellectual paths and utopias promising new homes that have, ironically, become highlights of European culture? We were mindful that we needed to explore religion and ethnicity among mostly secular intellectuals, who often no longer identified themselves as Jewish. We anticipated receiving a range of answers to the “Jewish Question”: a series of explorations of the Jewish European disaster, ending with portrayals of prospective new homes, whether in Europe, the U.S. or Israel, whether on Popper’s model of an Open Society, or on Furst’s model of home is somewhere else. Unexpectedly, the vision of Judeo-Christian civilization emerged as a focal interest for participants, reflecting the contemporary European search for identity and the historical interest in Jewish Catholics. We hope that we have provided in this volume new ways for understanding religion and ethnicity among the Jewish émigrés, and new directions for searching for the émigré impact on the shaping of postwar culture.
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