Austrian Jewish Refugees in the United States and the Fate of Their Elderly in Nazi Europe, 1938–46
Bettina Brandt’s project examines multigenerational responses to the Austrian »Anschluss« within an extended Jewish family from a transatlantic perspective and with a focus on age. It first analyzes the forced emigration of the two youngest generations and the strategies of the local and international aid organizations that supported the émigrés. Furthermore, it focuses on the challenges that the middle generation faced as refugees in the USA before and during World War II. Next, the focus shifts to the oldest generation left behind in Nazi Europe. What was daily life like for elderly Jews in Vienna from 1939 to 1942? How did their adult children in the United States try to bring their parents to safety? Why did they fail? What was daily life like for the elderly Viennese after their deportation to Terezín? How did the end of the war impact the three different generations of this extended family, including elderly survivors returning to Vienna?
Bettina Brandt is Teaching Professor of German and Jewish Studies at the Pennsylvania State University. She received a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from Harvard University and degrees in German and French from the University of Utrecht. Her research interests include twentieth- and twenty-first-century German-language literature, literary multilingualism, and translation studies, as well as German-Jewish literature and the Holocaust.
Brandt has received several awards and fellowships for her collective biography about an extended Viennese-Jewish family with a focus on the Holocaust years and the care for the elderly left behind in Nazi Europe. In 2017 she was granted a Fellowship from the Dietrich W. Botstiber Institute for Austrian-American Studies (BIAAS) and a Martin Miller and Hannah Norbert-Miller Visiting Fellowship from the School of Advanced Study, University of London. In 2016 Brandt was a Resident Fellow at the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Studies (NIAS) in Amsterdam. Most recently, in 2019, she was the Edith Birnbaum Milman Memorial Fellow at the Jack, Joseph, and Morton Mandel Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, in Washington, DC.
with Yasemin Yildiz (eds.), Tales That Touch. Migration, Translation, and Temporality in Twentieth- and Twenty-First-Century German Literature and Culture, Berlin and Boston 2022; »From Vienna to the Midwest: Austrian Refugees and Quaker Responses after 1938«, in: Laurie Johnson (ed.), Germany from the Outside. Rethinking German Cultural History in an Age of Displacement, London and Oxford 2022; »Taming Foreign Speech: Language Politics in Shadow Plays around 1800«, in: German Studies Review 41.2 (2018), 355–72; »Yoko Tawada’s ›Tongue Dance‹ or the Failed Domestication of a Tongue in Furs«, in: Bethany Wiggin, Catriona Macleod (eds.), Un/Translatables. New Maps for Germanic Literatures, Evanston 2016, pp. 299–312; with Daniel Purdy (eds.), China in the German Enlightenment, Toronto 2016.
Mit freundlicher Unterstützung der
What can a box of old German Holocaust letters found in an American attic tell us about Jewish life in Vienna after the »Anschluss«? What obstacles did the translator face when deciphering this transatlantic family correspondence for the American descendants of the Viennese letter-writer who herself had perished in the Holocaust?