Jan 2019

Glossen 44. Exile and Emigration. An Introduction

Many Glossen authors, past and present, live between two or more cultures, many have fled or have been forced to flee one country for another (and another), and many are scholars of authors whose life and work are defined by such experiences. Glossen 44 looks anew at exile and emigration in essays and analyses, creative writing, and through the review of recent publications in the field. Contributions address Jewish experiences, GDR experiences, and contemporary experiences.

Unfortunately, we continue to learn about the horrors of contemporary exile and emigration: the children separated from families by the U.S. government, the families struggling to find a way to stay in Europe, or the individuals who are risking their lives to get the chance to fight to stay in exile. The variety and intensity of the exile experiences documented here are not easily compared to such contemporary experiences, but they provide insight into the associated processes of resistance, memory, and memorialization.

Anna Rosmus presents the life of a lesser-known artist, Kurt Burian, a Passau native who fled the Nazis and led a life as a well-known and successful musician in the U.S. A noted biographer and historian, Rosmus weaves personal memories with archival materials and leads the reader into history through Burian’s life, which is marked by multiple emigrations. At home in Europe and then in the U.S., Burian returned to Germany in the 70s, where he lived until his death in 1978.

While Rosmus searches for traces of Burian in archives, documents, and with living family members in the U.S. and in Passau, Hans Mayer travels to the town of Sanary-sur-Mer on the French Riviera for the physical traces of well-known exiles such as the Manns, the Feuchtwanglers, and Hessel. Mayer’s piece reveals the challenges facing memory and memorialization in contemporary landscapes, particularly in France, and in his conclusion he asserts that it is our task to understand that “was und wie erinnert wird, hat Auswirkungen für den Blick auf die Gegenwart” (what and how [we] remember has effects upon [our] view of the present).

Understanding and processing past experience through the lens of the present is of particular importance in the two works of Egon Schwarz, “Dank an die Emigration” and “Lebe wohl Südamerika.” Reinhard Andress, friend and collaborator of Schwarz, returns as a contributor and describes how these two posthumously published works illuminate Schwarz’s positive view of his experience of exile and emigration.

Anne Weber chose to leave Germany and currently lives and works in Paris, writing in and translating between French and German. In her interview with Helga Druxes, Weber describes the family reasons for this and discusses the many ways to respond to the uncomfortable reality of being German. Weber sees her experiences in her chosen exile as a way of better seeing her own history and her own identity.

Weber is not alone in her choice to leave Germany. Many of the works of short prose and poetry in Glossen are also about life outside of Germany and the ways that geographical and historical distance influence current life. Ute Jansen-Alonzo, Albrecht Classen, Peter Arnds, Geertje Potash-Suhr, and Israel Zoberman are (or were) in the U.S. by choice and their perspective benefits from the U.S. context, provides insight into histories, and presents the U.S. in a refreshingly new and, these days, increasingly critical light.

Prosecution and oppression have often been the focus of Glossen through attention to the writings and the lives of GDR citizens and dissidents. Karin Schestokat’s essay for this volume compares a classic of GDR literature, Die neuen Leiden des jungen W. with the recent novel Kruso, and Ernest Kuczyński highlights the international reception of Jürgen Fuchs’s prose and poetry. Axel Reitel contributes again with a prose piece from his volume Zündhölzer für ein Manöver (1987), “Bericht an eine Jury. Eine Stasi-Satire,” about the experience of persecution and exile.

Five reviews of recent publications by and about exiled authors and artists also contribute to the theme of this Glossen issue. Danièle Buck’s collage created in response to Hans Joachim Schädlich’s novel Felix und Felka (2018) explores the everyday material remnants of the lives of Felix and Felka Nussbaum in exile.

Of course, Glossen does not limit its volumes to a single theme, although exile and emigration is the topic of much of this edition. In the past, Glossen has highlighted the life and work of Gerald Uhlig-Romero, founder of the famous Berliner Café Einstein Unter den Linden, in interviews, his own writing, and more. Glossen 44 sees the return of Gerald Uhlig-Romero as author and the commemoration of his life by Hans Mayer. Uhlig-Romero’s “Endlich – Der Frühling kommt” is most likely the last work he wrote before his death in July of 2018.

In my role as interim online editor, I do most of my work in the background, making sure that the technology of our blog functions and the texts of our contributors look good on a computer screen. I write the introduction for Glossen 44 in part to participate in the journal’s content, but more because of the generosity and work of Glossen’s true editor, Frederick A. Lubich. As many have read in our most “Recent Posts,” Frederick is battling cancer of the tongue. The cancer has robbed him of the ability to speak and eat, but he is refusing to be silent. His recent posts tell a story of cancer, but also one of life, love, and joy, accompanied with melodies, lyrics, and poetry. In the coming weeks, he will continue to contribute such posts to Glossen. Please remember to check our main page often and read his work.

Finally, we invite our readers to submit works for upcoming Glossen editions. In particular, we seek texts on current events and developments in the cultural realm of German-American relations for our unique segment “Recent Posts.”

Sarah McGaughey
Interim Online Editor
mcgaughs (at) dickinson.edu

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