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Professor Uta Larkey Discusses 'Life and Loss in the Shadow of the Holocaust'

Release date: October 11, 2011

Goucher Associate Professor of German Studies Uta Larkey will discuss her new book Life and Loss in the Shadow of the Holocaust: A Jewish Family's Untold Story on Tuesday, October 11, at 7 p.m. in the Batza Room of the college's Athenaeum.

This event, which is free and open to the public, is a presentation of the Friends of the Goucher College Library. For more information, contact Kristen Keener, director of media relations, at 410-337-6316.

Life and Loss in the Shadow of the Holocaust (Cambridge University Press, 2011) is based on correspondence between members of a Jewish family before, during, and after the Holocaust. Larkey and her co-author Rebecca Boehling reveal how the Kaufmann-Steinberg family was pulled apart under the Nazi regime and left divided between Germany, the United States, and Palestine. The family's unique eight-way correspondence across two generations brings into sharp focus the dilemma of Jews who faced the painful decision of when and if they should leave Nazi Germany.

The book captures the family members' fluctuating emotions of hope, resignation, and despair, as well as the day-to-day concerns, experiences, and dynamics of family life despite increasing persecution and impending deportation. Headed by two sisters who were among the first female business owners in Essen, the family was far from conventional, and their story contributes a new dimension to the understanding of life in Germany during these dark years.

Larkey brings a rich background of study to the book and her teaching. "Writing the book and teaching the Holocaust have taught me that we all too often consider historical events as discrete facts," she says. "The substantial letter collection and two diaries from the 1930s and 1940s provide rich details about the everyday lives and struggles of Jews under the Nazi regime. Reading about the limited possibilities for Jews to emigrate from Nazi Germany in the late 1930s in personal letters and in coded language partially answered the question often posed by students: 'Why didn't they leave?' I hope that telling a family history against the backdrop of major historical events will increase the readers' knowledge, empathy, and curiosity."

Larkey received her M.A. from the University of Leipzig and her doctorate from Humboldt University Berlin. A professor of German at Goucher since 1996, she is also the director of the German program and an affiliate faculty member of the Judaic studies program. She teaches courses on German language and culture and in Jewish, Holocaust, and film studies. A number of fellowships and research grants have enabled her to pursue her research interest in the Holocaust. She has presented numerous papers at national and international conferences and seminars, most recently on the second-generation experience in Holocaust survivor families at an American studies conference in the Netherlands.