Before I address the aspect of this topic that I find most interesting, I would like to briefly mention two elements of these seminars and the secret event that particularly struck me. Firstly, this was perhaps the most eye-opening series of discussions that I have had this semester. Not only was the topic in itself one that I had not encountered previously, it was also engaged with in a manner that I found very intriguing. It revealed so many personal, emotions not only of the speakers and public figures present at the “secret event’’, but also of the professors leading these dialogues. I would never have guessed just how much the history of the Shoa and its process of grieving and remembering would have impacted them (well, you). How different it is from my own up-bringing in a leftist Danish discourse that is clearly pro-jewish whilst anti-zionist and most certainly pro-Palestine. My german father also never mentioned neither a present nor past readiness to die for Israel, so even this starting point was a foreign concept to me.
Furthermore, I was very conflicted by whose personal emotions and experiences were considered valuable in this debate, particularly at the secret panel discussion. In the first round, I felt barely any tension in my own body or in the room around me as we all sat and listened to the personal anecdotes, emotional responses and jokes the speakers shared. Yet this changed in the second round, and I do wonder why. I understand on the one hand the criticism that the conflict(s) in the Middle East should not be discussed or presented with a focal point on “German feelings’’, which it too often is in the German media. It obviously is not and should not be about Germany. On the other hand, I have ambiguous feelings with regards to the rise of a certain uneasiness in the air, as these German journalists and politician – who had been invited to speak about migrant anti-semitism in the German public sphere – were trying to echoe and respond to the personal tone that had established itself through the first round. In the context of the German public sphere, why were these personal feelings discomforting and to a greater extent unwelcomed? Why could I feel a stronger cringe creep up on my own body?
As to the aspect of the topic that I found most pressing and that I would love to hear further discussions about, is the idea of redesigning and rethinking this extremely significant and defining engagement with Germany’s past. How can the politics of national historical memory become more inclusive? As Emily mentioned in our first seminar, she feels as though immigrants are asked to carry the burden of Germany’s past without ever being granted a full belonging to its present. How can this concretely be combatted? And in what spaces should this combat occur: in schools, in memorials, in museums?
Finally, I would like to express my gratitude to the organisers that made all of this possible. It has been truly enriching and enjoyable in an often most tense manner. Thank you.