Experiencing Antisemitism in the Third Generation
On the Reactualization of Extreme Trauma in Descendants of Shoah Survivors

This interdisciplinary research group investigates how descendants of Shoah survivors experience antisemitism. We examine whether and to what extent antisemitism in the lives of the “Third Generation” in the Federal Republic of Germany reactualizes their grandparents’ experiences of persecution. A key part of this work will be establishing an encounter group made up of members from the Third Generation. In this environment, survivors’ grandchildren will have the opportunity to talk about their experiences with antisemitic hostility; their fears, worries, and anxieties; and their processing and coping strategies. At the same time, our group investigates questions of identification, loyalty, conflict, and transgenerational trauma – while taking into account the particular context of Germany as the “land of perpetrators”. In addition, we will evaluate topic-based individual interviews and psychoanalytic case vignettes. We will analyze the group sessions and interviews using an elaborated multi-method research design.

Until now, antisemitism and transgenerational trauma have been considered separately and researched in completely different disciplines. Several studies in the social sciences focusing on contemporary antisemitism offer productive findings, but they do not take into account the perspective of those affected and their individual family histories. Psychological and psychoanalytic research investigating the extreme trauma and long-term effects of the Shoah primarily have clinical implications, but they largely exclude issues of contemporary antisemitism. Our interdisciplinary research group fills this gap by investigating which psychological dynamics result from experiencing antisemitism and by exploring whether, and to what extent, these dynamics reactualize the inherited experiences of persecution from the Shoah. This in-depth analysis of antisemitism considers a Jewish perspective, focusing on the descendants of Shoah survivors.

Data collection will be conducted under the direction of Kurt Grünberg Ph.D. (Sigmund-Freud-Institut, Frankfurt Main, Germany). The research group at Freud Institute will facilitate the data collection phase during periodic sessions. Data analysis will be undertaken independently by different research groups. Prof. Yvonne Brandl (Catholic University of Applied Sciences North Rhine-Westphalia, Münster, Germany) will coordinate two again independently working qualitative-reconstructive evaluation groups: both a group-analytical and a depth-hermeneutical body of experts (in cooperation with Prof. Jan Lohl and the research workshop on depth-hermeneutics). Prof. Monika Schwarz-Friesel (TU Berlin will conduct a detailed cognitive-linguistic analysis of the data. The research group at the Sigmund-Freud-Institut, under the direction of Kurt Grünberg, will focus on the experience of antisemitism as a kind of “Scenic memory of the Shoah.” This approach will allow us to explore how contemporary experiences of antisemitism and inherited experiences of persecution interact with one another.

Finally, the results of this research will be integrated and disseminated. A key part of this communication will involve working with the education department of the Central Council of Jews (‘Zentralrat der Juden in Deutschland’) and with the Central Welfare Office of Jews in Germany (‘Zentralwohlfahrtsstelle der Juden in Deutschland’, ZWST) to train psychosocial professionals and to incorporate these research insights into political education programs.



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Dr. phil. Kurt Grünberg

Myliusstr. 20
60323 Frankfurt am Main

Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Monika Schwarz-Friesel

Technische Universität Berlin
Institut für Sprache und Kommunikation
Fachgebiet Allgemeine Linguistik
Hardenbergstr. 16-18

10623 Berlin

Prof. Dr. Sarah Yvonne Brandl

Katholische Hochschule Nordrhein-Westfalen
Abteilung Münster
Fachgebiet Sozialwesen
Piusallee 89

48147 Münster