09 Mar 2022 – 10 Mar 2022

CoHLIT-21 Berlin Seminar on German Literature and the Holocaust

Venue: Leibniz-Zentrum für Literatur- und Kulturforschung, Schützenstr. 18, 10117 Berlin, Aufgang B, 3. Et. / online
Organized by Vivian Liska (University of Antwerp), Kris Van Heuckelom (KU Leuven), Michal Ben-Horin (Bar-Ilan University), Matthias Schwartz (ZfL)
Research project(s): World Fiction, Post/Socialist

The next seminar of the CoHLIT-21 consortium is dedicated to German literature since 2000 and will take place (in a hybrid format) from 9–10 March, 2022 under the auspices of the ZfL Berlin.

The Holocaust and the catastrophe of WWII played a central role in the historical narrative/s that influenced the creation of German collective memory in the 20th century. In 1989, the reunification of Germany shifted this memory in various and, to some extent, contradictory directions, in which old and new issues regarding perpetrators vs. victims as well as questions of guilt, suffering, and shame gained dominance in the German historical narrative. Aleida Assmann described what she called “the emotionalizing of history” and showed how personal testimonies became a central element in the formation of the German historical narrative. This is also demonstrated in the realm of German literature that was associated with a “new paradigm.”

Since the turn of the 21st century, German literature writes and rewrites historical events connected to the Holocaust and WWII into a larger narrative of the German 20th century. What can we learn from looking at these literary repertoires (for children, young adults, and adults) from a comparative multicultural and multilingual perspective?


The seminar will take place in a hybrid format. Participation in the seminar is free of charge, but registration is required. If you are interested in participating (either in person or via Zoom), please send an e-mail to by Friday, March 4 at the latest.


Wednesday, 9 Mar 2022
Opening Session/Chair: Michal Ben-Horin
  • 11:00–11:30 Greetings
  • 11:00 Dr. Matthias Schwartz (Leibniz-Zentrum für Literatur- und Kulturforschung)
  • 11:10 Prof. Vivian Liska (Antwerp University)
  • 11:20 Prof. Sławomir Jacek Zurek (John Paul II Catholic University of Lublin)
  • 11:30 Silke Horstkotte (Universität Leipzig): “Managing the Present: German-Language Holocaust Literature Beyond the Memory Paradigm”
  • 12:30 Discussion
Break (Lunch)

Session 1/Chair: Kris Van Heuckelom
  • 14:00 Luisa Banki (Bergische Universität Wuppertal): “Enkelliteratur. Third Generation Holocaust Literature”
  • ​14:30 Elisa-Maria Hiemer (Herder-Institut für historische Ostmitteleuropaforschung, Marburg): “How to Leave the Tormenting Past Behind? Self-Confidence in Recent Jewish Literature from Germany and Poland”
  • 15:00 Juliane Prade-Weiss (Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München): “Complicity at a Distance: Commemorating Problematic Involvement in Perpetration”
  • 15:30 Discussion


Session 2/Chair: Daniel Feldman

  • 16:30 Vivian Liska (Antwerp University): “After the Silence. The Holocaust in Early 21st Century Austrian-Jewish Literature”
  • 17:00 Michal Ben-Horin (Bar-Ilan University): “Horrendous Homecomings: Jenny Erpenbeck's Visitation and Ruth Almog's Stranger in Paradise”
  • 17:30 Discussion

Thursday, 10 Mar 2022
Session 3/Chair: Matthias Schwartz
  • 10:00 Rebecca Haubrich (Dalhousie University): “Precarious Continuities Reading the Afterlife of Fascism: Benjamin, Arendt, Jelinek”
  • 10:30 Amir Engel (The Hebrew University of Jerusalem): “The Affirmation of Exile in Contemporary German-Jewish Literature: A Reading of Maxim Biller, Olga Grjasnowa, and Mati Shemoelof”
  • 11:00 Sławomir Jacek Zurek (John Paul II Catholic University of Lublin): “Messianic Time and the Shoah: Pre-War Warnings of a Catastrophe. A Comparative Analysis of Maxim Biller’s Im Kopf von Bruno Schulz and Piotr Szewc’s Zagłada”
  • 11:30 Discussion
Break (Lunch)
Session 4/Chair: Marina Balina
  • 13:00 Hadassah Stichnothe (Universität Bremen): “Repercussions of the Past: Children's and Young Adult Literature on the Holocaust in Germany”
  • ​14:00 Eva Lezzi (Berlin): “Beni and his Grandma. A Children’s Book Series about Everyday Jewish Life in Germany”
  • 14:30 Discussion
Session 5/Chair:  Irena Barbara Kalla
  • 15:30 Kaat Buelens: “Smuggling and Suitcases. Comparing Selected Images from 28 Days and Mr. Benjamin’s Suitcase of Secrets to Dutch and Polish Works”
  • 16:00 Sarah Minslow (California State University): “A Preliminary Comparative Review of American-English Holocaust Literature Published Since 2000”
  • 16:30 Discussion
Closing Session