© Merav Maroody

Sheer Ganor

PhD Candidate at the Department of History at UC Berkeley

Sheer Ganor is a PhD candidate in the Department of History at UC Berkeley. Her dissertation examines the global German-Jewish diaspora that emerged following the rise of Nazism. In the dissertation, she analyzes everyday experiences of displacement and their significance in shaping and affirming cultural identities. She is currently a doctoral fellow at the Leo Baeck Programme of the Studienstiftung des deutschen Volkes.


„My Viennese soul recoiled“. How to Stay Austrian in the German-Jewish Diaspora

Following the Anschluss and the implementation of antisemitic persecution, dozens of thousands of Jews fled Austria and joined the diaspora of German-speaking Jewish refugees. In their displaced communities in different parts of the world, Central European Jews experienced a consolidation that lumped together people of various backgrounds under the umbrella of “German Jews.” This conflation was not unnatural. For outsiders, distinctions between Jews from Hamburg or from Vienna were hardly detectable. Internally, too, Jews from German-speaking regions shared not only a cultural-linguistic affinity, but also business, social and familial ties. Yet these affinities did not erase cultural particularities that Austrian Jews had identified as uniquely their own.

This paper explores a delicate balance crafted by Jews from Austria as they joined milieus of German-speaking refugees yet continued to stress and celebrate their cultural particularity. Focusing on everyday rituals, I trace the motivations and strategies of performing an Austrian-Jewish identity. Enjoying Kaffee mit Schlag at Café Éclair in Manhattan, watching cabaret in Wienerisch in Shanghai, or cheering for Team Austria in football matches in Kent (UK) – these acts and others fused nostalgia, grief and pride, allowing Austrian Jews to access experiences they were forced to leave behind, as well as resist being subsumed by categories that, without being entirely false, obscured vital pieces of their story.

Programme: Panel 6, Thursday, 6 September 2018, 13:00-14:30