The ‘Daughter of Germany’: Desire and Power Relations in the Post-Holocaust Jewish Imaginary

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The figure of the Daughter of Germany reflects a widespread phenomenon of writing in Israel and the diaspora, not just in Germany and Austria, where Jewish writers began in the 1990s to explore their fraught relations with their adopted, readopted, or abandoned Heimat. In the uneasy encounters with present-day Germans, who may have to deal with their suppressed family and national past, Jewish writers find it impossible to free themselves from a history not of their making. This article discusses what the staging of erotic fantasies says about the grappling with the traumatic past. The fetish of the German woman has to do more with sexual stereotypes in cinema and popular culture than with anti-Semitism and the Holocaust, but it projects social and cultural anxieties, in particular about ethnic and racial difference. The power relations at play here in the imagination of male and female Jewish writers reflect constructions of Jewish sexuality and masculinity. The German woman as an erotic object of love has a deep and complex history in German-Jewish writing and in the Jewish imaginary in general, which cannot be erased. Although newly arrived Israelis tried to think of Berlin in the 2010s as a place like any other, relations between Germans and Jews remain tainted by their entangled histories and the traumatic past.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)584–622
Number of pages39
JournalProoftexts - Journal of Jewish Literature History
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Religious studies
  • Literature and Literary Theory


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