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Author(s): Glöckner, Olaf
Date: 2023
Abstract: Our narrative and expert interviews with Jewish and non-Jewish key figures in public and political life mainly focussed on the question of to what extent have Jewish-non Jewish relations changed, compared to the discord prior to 1933, and the general reservation and uncertainty after 1945? We also raised other key questions like: to what extent do Jews in Germany feel integrated into today’s non-Jewish majority society? What do they consider core elements of their Jewish identities? What is the meaning of Israel in their lives as Jews? How do they cope with new trends of antisemitism in Germany? As a complementary question, we wanted to know from our non-Jewish interviewees how different they consider Jewish/non-Jewish relations today? To what extent does Shoah memory (still) affect these relations? How do Jews and non-Jews cooperate in social activities, and are there new, joint strategies to combat antisemitism?

Our interviews revealed that Jews in present-day Germany do not romanticize their lives in the country of the former Nazi regime. However, they appreciate efforts by the state to promote future Jewish life, to carry out dignified politics of commemoration, and to ensure security. Antisemitism is perceived as a societal problem but not as an existential threat. None of the Jewish interview partners considered Germany as a place that is too dangerous for Jews. Memory of the Shoah is considered important, but building a Jewish future, especially for one’s
own children, is the more relevant issue.

A key finding of our interviews in Germany is that a new generation of young Jews has grown up neither justifying living in the “country of the offenders” nor considering themselves representatives of the State of Israel. Young Jews in Germany run their own multifaceted networks, understanding themselves as Jews but to a similar extent also as Germans. Some of them enjoy participation in public and political life, deliberately acting in both roles
Date: 2022
Date: 2019
Abstract: Катастрофа европейского еврейства привела к почти полному исчезновению еврейской общины Германии. Чудо случилось в 1990-х годах, когда русскоязычные евреи стали тысячами прибывать в эту страну. Для местных евреев неожиданная иммиграция казалась удачным шансом, выпавшим еврейским сообществам и обществу в целом. Однако первое поколение русско-еврейских иммигрантов столкнулось с большим числом социальных проблем и трудностей интеграции на рынок труда. К этому следует добавить культурное отчуждение от немецкого общества и серьезные различия в культуре, ментальности и идентичности с местными еврейскими общинами. А также конфликты между старожилами и новоприбывшими относительно желаемых моделей организации еврейской жизни – в силу чего и через тридцать лет после начала иммиграции русские евреи все еще мало представлены в общенациональном еврейском руководстве. И все же, впервые после окончания Второй мировой войны у еврейских общин Германии появился шанс построить плюралистическую модель религиозных, культурных, образовательных и политических проектов. Второе поколение русских евреев Германии не сталкивается с проблемами интеграции, подобные проблемам родителей, и большинство из этого поколения вольется в немецкий средний класс и профессиональную элиту страны – или уже находятся там. Но при этом совершенно непонятно пока, до какой степени второе поколение русских евреев будет искать собственные корни, интересоваться еврейским наследием и участвовать в жизни еврейских общин.
Author(s): Glöckner, Olaf
Date: 2010
Abstract: Russian Jews who left the Former Soviet Union (FSU) and its Successor States after 1989 are considered as one of the best qualified migrants group worldwide. In the preferred countries of destination (Israel, the United States and Germany) they are well-known for cultural self-assertion, strong social upward mobility and manifold forms of self organisation and empowerment. Using Suzanne Kellers sociological model of “Strategic Elites”, it easily becomes clear that a huge share of the Russian Jewish Immigrants in Germany and Israel are part of various elites due to their qualification and high positions in the FSU – first of all professional, cultural and intellectual elites (“Intelligentsija”). The study aimed to find out to what extent developments of cultural self-assertion, of local and transnational networking and of ethno-cultural empowerment are supported or even initiated by the immigrated (Russian Jewish) Elites. The empirical basis for this study have been 35 half-structured expert interviews with Russian Jews in both countries (Israel, Germany) – most of them scholars, artists, writers, journalists/publicists, teachers, engineers, social workers, students and politicians. The qualitative analysis of the interview material in Israel and Germany revealed that there are a lot of commonalities but also significant differences. It was obvious that almost all of the interview partners remained to be linked with Russian speaking networks and communities, irrespective of their success (or failure) in integration into the host societies. Many of them showed self-confidence with regard to the groups’ amazing professional resources (70% of the adults with academic degree), and the cultural, professional and political potential of the FSU immigrants was usually considered as equal to those of the host population(s). Thus, the immigrants’ interest in direct societal participation and social acceptance was accordingly high. Assimilation was no option. For the Russian Jewish “sense of community” in Israel and Germany, Russian Language, Arts and general Russian culture have remained of key importance. The Immigrants do not feel an insuperable contradiction when feeling “Russian” in cultural terms, “Jewish” in ethnical terms and “Israeli” / “German” in national terms – in that a typical case of additive identity shaping what is also significant for the Elites of these Immigrants. Tendencies of ethno-cultural self organisation – which do not necessarily hinder impressing individual careers in the new surroundings – are more noticeable in Israel. Thus, a part of the Russian Jewish Elites has responded to social exclusion, discrimination or blocking by local population (and by local elites) with intense efforts to build (Russian Jewish) Associations, Media, Educational Institutions and even Political Parties. All in all, the results of this study do very much contradict popular stereotypes of the Russian Jewish Immigrant as a pragmatic, passive “Homo Sovieticus”. Among the Interview Partners in this study, civil-societal commitment was not the exception but rather the rule. Traditional activities of the early, legendary Russian „Intelligentsija“ were marked by smooth transitions from arts, education and societal/political commitment. There seem to be certain continuities of this self-demand in some of the Russian Jewish groups in Israel. Though, nothing comparable could be drawn from the Interviews with the Immigrants in Germany. Thus, the myth and self-demand of Russian “Intelligentsija” is irrelevant for collective discourses among Russian Jews in Germany