Institute of Advanced Studies (IAS)


IAS Book Launch: Home after Fascism & German-Jewish Life Writing in the Aftermath of the Holocaust

25 April 2024, 5:15 pm–7:00 pm

On red background two book covers with black and white depictions of post war time scenes

This joint book launch brings together authors Anna Koch and Helen Finch in celebration of their books 'Home after Fascism' and 'German-Jewish Life Writing in the Aftermath of the Holocaust'

This event is free.

Event Information

Open to

All | UCL staff | UCL students






Institute of Advanced Studies


IAS Common Ground
G11, ground floor, South Wing
UCL, Gower St, London

The book draws on a rich array of memoirs, interviews, correspondence, and archival research to tell the stories of Italian and German Jews who returned to their home countries after the Holocaust. It reveals Jews' complex and often changing feelings toward their former homes and highlights the ways in which three distinct national contexts—East German, West German, and Italian—shaped their answers to the question, is this home?
Returning Italian and German Jews renegotiated their place in national communities that had targeted them for persecution and extermination. While most Italian Jews remained deeply attached to their home country, German Jews struggled to feel at home in the "country of murderers." Yet, some retained a sense of belonging through German culture and language or felt attached to a specific region or city. Still others looked to the future; socialist and communists of Jewish origin hoped to build a better Germany in the Soviet Occupied Zone. In all three postwar states, surviving Jews fought against persistent antisemitism, faced the challenge of recovering lost homes and possessions, struggled to make sense of their persecution, and tried to find ways to reclaim a sense of belonging.

How did German-speaking Holocaust survivors pursue literary careers in an often-indifferent postwar society? How did their literary life writings reflect their postwar struggles? This monograph focuses on four authors who bore literary witness to the Shoah - H. G. Adler, Fred Wander, Edgar Hilsenrath, and Ruth Klüger. It analyses their autofictional, critical, and autobiographical works written between the early 1950s and 2015, which depict their postwar experiences of writing, publishing, and publicizing Holocaust testimony.
These case studies shed light on the devastating aftermaths of the Holocaust in different contexts. Adler depicts his attempts to overcome marginalisation as a writer in Britain in the 1950s. Wander reflects on his failure to find a home either in postwar Austria or in the GDR. Hilsenrath satirises his struggles as an emigrant to the US in the 1960s and after returning to Berlin in the 1980s. Finally, in her 2008 memoir, Ruth Klüger follows up her earlier, highly impactful memoir of the concentration camps by narrating the misogyny and antisemitism she experienced in US and German academia. Helen analyses how these under-researched texts intertwine transgressive political criticism with the shadow of trauma. 

The event will be chaired by Professor Mary Fulbrook (UCL German History).


About the Speakers

Helen Finch

at University of Leeds

Helen Finch is Professor of German Literature at the University of Leeds. Her main areas of research are in the representation of the Holocaust in German-language literature, queer identity and memory in German culture, and curriculum design. Linking all three is a concern with marginalised voices, poetics of resistance, and inclusivity, concerns which she also brings to her teaching. Helen is Director of German at Leeds, and a member of the University’s Centre for Jewish Studies and the Centre for World Literatures.

Anna Koch


Anna Koch is DAAD Francis Carsten Lecturer in Modern German History at University College London, School of Slavonic and East European Studies. In her research and teaching, she examines histories of displacement, exile and return, often employing a transnational or comparative lens. She has published on Italian and German Jewish history and currently co-edits a volume on Holocaust Memory and the Cold War. Home after Fascism is her first book.