Imagining Remigration and Return: The Experience of Statelessness and the Idea of Universal Belonging in Postwar Germany

19.10.2016, Vortrag, DHI London

Miriam Rürup (Hamburg)

After 1945 the situation of a huge group of displaced persons was uncertain. Roughly 10,000 out of 280,000 displaced persons living in Germany in 1948 were stateless. Until a law confirming their legal status as homeless foreigners was passed in the FRG in April 1951, these DPs were defined as homeless, stateless foreigners under the auspices of the United Nations High Commissioner of Refugees. While the ‘right to have a nationality’ was part of the 1948 Declaration of Human Rights, the question of how to deal with stateless people remained unresolved. Different and partly contradictory concepts of how to overcome statelessness competed in the early postwar era. This lecture will explore these concepts, which included practices of forced repatriation in the early postwar months, the Zionist idea of a return to the ‘homeland’, and notions of universal belonging such as World Citizenship.

Miriam Rürup is Director of the Institute for the History of the German Jews in Hamburg. She studied history, sociology, and cultural anthropology at the universities of Göttingen, Tel Aviv, and Berlin, and worked for the Foundation ‘Topography of Terror’ in Berlin, the Rosenzweig Center in Jerusalem, and the Simon Dubnow Institute in Leipzig, at the History Department of Göttingen University, and at the German Historical Institute in Washington. Her research interests lie in German–Jewish history, the history of the Third Reich, gender history, and the history of migration. Among her publications are Ehrensache: Jüdische Studentenverbindungen an deutschen Universitäten, 1886–1937 (2008), a study of the history of German– Jewish student fraternities in Imperial and Weimar Germany, and the edited volume Praktiken der Differenz: Diasporakulturen in der Zeitgeschichte (2009).

This lecture will be held at 5.30 p.m. in the Seminar Room of the German Historical Institute, 17 Bloomsbury Square, LONDON WC1A 2NJ.
Tea is served from 5.00 p.m. in the Common Room, and wine is available afterwards.