Date received: May 2019
Title of research project: Holocaust Memory and Immigration Integration in Europe
Brief description of research project: A fundamental aspect of contemporary European, especially German, national identity is the necessity of coming to terms with the Holocaust and learning the ‘right’ lessons from it, above all the emotional and ethical lessons of empathy and tolerance. Following World War II, Muslim-background minorities arrived in large numbers in Western Europe to help rebuild the war-torn continent. Today these same immigrants, many of them second- and third-generation, are commonly accused of being unable to relate to Holocaust history, of remaining unsympathetic towards its Jewish victims, and of importing new forms of anti-Semitism. Accordingly, the German government, German NGOs, and Muslim-minority groups have together begun to organise an assortment of Holocaust education and anti-Semitism prevention programmes designed specifically for Muslim-background immigrants and refugees, so they too can learn the ‘right’ lessons from the Holocaust and thereby share in Germany’s most important post-War political values. Based on ethnographic research this project explores recent debates about the responsibility of immigrants in shouldering Holocaust memory culture having the potential to draw those citizens without a European background towards post-Holocaust European values such as tolerance, democracy and empathy. However, it also focuses on how these debates can drive such citizens away, by reproaching them for not having gone through the same stages of democratisation that Germans have gone through since losing World War II.