Jews in Germany a 'reconstruction'

By Melanie Klein
Arizona Daily Wildcat
March 7, 1996

Ruthie M. Caffery
Arizona Daily Wildcat

Georgetown University Professor Jeffrey Peck speaks about the presence of Jews in Germany. Last night's lecture was sponsored by the UA German Studies Department.


To the Jewish community, "Germany is a home although it is an unsettled one," Jeffrey Peck, associate professor of German studies at Georgetown University, said last night at a lecture sponsored by the UA German Studies Department.

"I wanted to look at the reasons why Jews choose to live in a country where the Holocaust occurred," Peck said in a early interview.

Peck addressed a crowd of about 140 people on "The Jewish Presence in Germany Today," confronting the complexity of being a German Jew culturally, religiously and politically.

"The Jews' presence in Germany today is difficult from both the inside and outside," he said.

Claude Spingarn, a spectator at the speech who escaped from Germany in 1939, said he "can understand why they (Jews) go back, but it is hard to accept."

Spingarn went back to Germany once after his escape, saying, "I think most people with my background go back at least once. It's like a magnet."

Peck said most of the Jews who returned to West Germany did so for financial reasons, and those who went to East Germany did so for political reasons.

Going back to Germany does not mean that Jews are forgetting or even forgiving, Peck said. It does not mean they hate themselves, but for some "it is a step toward reconstruction," he said.

Tonight Peck will present his documentary "Sojourners: The Return of German Jews and the Question of Identity in East Germany" in Modern Languages Room 350 at 7:30.

The documentary focuses on the remaining 50,000 Jews out of the original half million living there before World War I and why these Jews choose to return to Germany.