The Difficulties of Writing Family History
A lecture series organised by the Leo Baeck Institute London in cooperation with the German Historical Institute London.
This season’s topic intends to discuss the challenges which arise when writing a European-Jewish family history set in the historically and politically charged period of the late 19th to the mid-20th century. What scholarly problems does a writer encounter, what emotional difficulties does an author face – especially in terms of allowing the public access to one’s own personal history, and how can these challenges be dealt with?
Professor Atina Grossmann (The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art) – Trauma, Privilege and Adventure in the “Orient”: A Refugee Family Archive
The talk examines, through the intimate – yet also distant – lens of family history, the ambivalent and paradoxical experiences, sensibilities, and emotions of bourgeois Berlin Jews who found refuge and romance in the ‘Orient’ of Iran and India after 1933. Drawing on an extensive collection of family correspondence and memorabilia from Iran and India (1935-1947), Grossmann probes her own parents’ understanding of their unstable position as well as the perils and pleasures of writing a ‘hybrid’ border-crossing family story folded into a larger historical drama of war, Holocaust, and vulnerable Empires.
Atina Grossmann is Professor of History at the Cooper Union in New York City. Publications include Jews, Germans, and Allies: Close Encounters in Occupied Germany (2007), and Wege in der Fremde: Deutsch-jüdische Begegnungsgeschichte zwischen New York, Berlin und Teheran (2012). Her
current research focuses on ‘Remapping Survival: Jewish Refugees and Lost Memories of Displacement, Trauma, and Rescue in the Soviet Union, Iran, and India’, as well as the entanglements of family memoir and historical scholarship.
Welcome by Professor Andreas Gestrich (Director, GHIL):
Introduction by Dr Daniel Wildman (Director, LBI):