Self-testimonies of Jews after the return from Latin America to Berlin

A team led by Stefan Rinke, a Latin American historian at the Freie Universität, and Stefanie Schüler-Springorum from the Centre for Research on Antisemitism at the Technische Universität will research “Personal testimonies of Jews returning to Berlin from Latin America (1945/49-1970)” as part of an Einstein Research Project. Between 1933 and the end of World War II, Latin America was a key destination for all those fleeing the National Socialist regime. Following Allied victory in 1945, however, it also became a hiding place for many who had committed crimes during Nazi rule. German Jews remigrating from Latin America to the German Federal Republic between 1945 and the start of the 1970s often hoped that they would be able to retrieve their stolen property thanks to the passing of the German Restitution Laws. Papers documenting these attempts can be found in the basements of some of Berlin’s official buildings in records compiled by the State of Berlin’s restitution authorities. These files contain statements made by victims explaining the circumstances they faced under National Socialism in Germany and in Latin America. This project will use these documents and resources from German and Latin American archives to examine the lives of Jews living in exile in Latin America. Researchers will focus on family situations and networks, knowledge acquisition, continuing antisemitism, and the challenges posed by remigration and the quest for restitution in post-war Berlin. In addition to the institutions named above, the team will be aided in their research and analysis by the Selma Stern Center for Jewish Studies Berlin-Brandenburg, the University of Potsdam, and the Ibero-American Institute. The Jewish Museum Berlin, the Exilmuseum, and the Documentation Centre for Displacement, Expulsion, Reconciliation will also be involved in the project.

Funding period: 01/2023 - 01/2026

Univ.-Prof. Dr. Stefan Rinke
ZI Lateinamerika-Institut
Freie Universität Berlin
Rüdesheimer Str. 54-56
14197 Berlin
Phone: +49 30 838 55588

Applicant: Freie Universität Berlin
Cooperation partner:  Center for Research on Antisemitism at Technische Universität Berlin; Selma Stern Zentrum für Jüdische Studien Berlin-Brandenburg; University of Potsdam; Ibero-American Institute