“Every democracy must be stimulated, challenged and developed – continuously. Democracy lives and thrives through self-critical confrontation with the past – personal and collective – and by scrutinizing the assumptions of earlier generations.
Where such reflection does not take place, people adhere rigidly to generationally-transmitted patterns of thinking, feeling and action. Lack of reflection allows far-right and nationalistic forces present outmoded messages of salvation that develop their own dynamics and create new injustice.
By means of dialogue my work, in an interdisciplinary and international fashion, confronts the past to develop tasks for the present so that society can withstand anti-democratic trends and movements in the future.” Alexandra Senfft
Alexandra’s central themes
Biographical work, life portraits, political analysis
Intergenerational consequences of the Holocaust, especially for perpetrators’ descendants
Dialogue between descendants of Holocaust survivors and of Nazi victimizers
Storytelling and dialogue in intractable conflicts based on the resolution approach of Israeli psychologist Dan Bar-On
Israel and Palestine: the conflict and the Peace Movement
Germans vis-a-vis Israelis and Palestinians in the Middle East Conflict
Anti-Semitism and populist hostility to Muslims
Senfft presents and discusses her areas of expertise in Germany and abroad. She lectures, participates in round tables and panels, speaks on radio and TV, and features in film documentaries. Outside of Germany, Senfft has presented her work for example at the University College London (UCL), the Leo Baeck College (London), Facultad de Ciencias Sociales (University of Buenos Aires), Ben Gurion University (Israel), Harvard University (Boston), Queens University (Charlotte, North Carolina), in synagogues in Birmingham (Alabama), Savannah and Augusta (Georgia), in Austen Riggs Center (Stockbridge, USA), Goethe Institute, Bratislava (Slovakia) or Heinrich Heine Haus (Paris).
Her book, Silence Hurts: A German Family History («Schweigen tut weh. Eine deutsche Familiengeschichte», Ullstein Buchverlage, Berlin 2007) won the German ‘Best Biography Award’ . The book was published in Slovakia in September 2018.
Alexandra’s book Strange Enemy, so far. Encounters with Palestinians and Israelis («Fremder Feind, so nah. Begegnungen mit Palästinensern und Israelis») was released in 2009, and in 2016 she published The Long Shadow of the Perpetrators. Descendants face their Nazi family history («Der Lange Schatten der Täter. Nachkommen stellen sich ihrer NS-Familiengeschichte»).
This article addresses the transgenerational consequences of the Second World War and the Holocaust for the descendants of the Nazi perpetrators and bystanders. Using the example of her own family, the author traces the external obstacles and the psychological difficulties arising from working through a legacy of crime, compounded by the fact that an atmosphere of taboos, silence and denial has persisted within German families – in spite of all the research and enlightenment in the academic and political spheres. The author argues that the patterns of feeling, thinking and action are often passed down when they are not scrutinised. Meaningful dialogues with the survivors and their descendants, as well as authentic remembrance, the author claims, can only take place if descendants of the victimisers break away from those generationally transmitted narratives which continue to evade the entire truth about the crimes committed by the Nazis and their accomplices in Europe. European Judaism, Volume 53, September 2020 read/purchase
Anspruch auf Deutungsmacht und politische Interessen Ein Sammelband zur Orientierung in der Debatte
Wolfgang Benz (Hrsg.) Mit Beiträgen von: Shimon Stein/Moshe Zimmermann, Daniel Cil Brecher, Juliane Wetzel, Wolfgang Benz, Daniel Bax, Michael Kohlstruck, Peter Widmann, Micha Brumlik, Thomas Knieper, Dervis Hızarcı, Katajun Amirpur, Alexandra Senfft, Muriel Asseburg, Gert Krell
Metropol Verlag, Juli 2020 ISBN: 978-3-86331-532-0 Hardcover, 328 Seiten, 24,– € ISBN E-Book/pdf: 978-3-86331-981-6, 19,– €
Israel: After three indecisive elections Israel has now two rotating Prime Ministers First published in: Der Freitag, Nr. 21, May 20, 2020 >> read
Bibi Netanyahu (Likud) and Benny Gantz (Blue and White) will therefore rotate as prime ministers in the future. But the mood in Israel is sour, the population mostly indifferent. No wonder, after three parliamentary elections and over a year of political tug-of-war, this compromise with the most expensive cabinet in history, 36 ministers and 16 deputies, was a difficult birth. In any case, everything has remained the same–the right wing and ultra-religious keep the say, Netanyahu remains their prime minister for the time being. It sounded correspondingly hollow when his designated successor, Gantz, announced that the greatest political crisis had now been overcome and that it was now the moment to reconcile. Potential opposition leader Yair Lapid immediately sneered: the Israelis deserved better, they “hate politicians and politics” to which there is “no longer any connection” in their “real life”. He thus also accused his former ally Gantz, who broke his election promise not to form a coalition with the indicted Netanyahu.
Alexandra Senfft 59 ans, auteure et journaliste, Allemagne
« Cette crise devrait nous inciter à adopter un mode de vie plus solidaire et plus respectueux de l’environnement. Mais je crains que le retour à la normale ne se traduise, au contraire, par une relance de la production et de la consommation. J’ai personnellement apprécié cette pause dans mes déplacements qui m’a donné une grande liberté intérieure. C’est, bien sûr, très différent pour ceux qui ont peur de perdre leur emploi ou leur entreprise. La société est divisée entre ceux qui prennent cette pandémie très au sérieux et ceux qui remettent en cause la légitimité des mesures prises et propagent des théories du complot. La récession pourrait donner un terrain favorable à l’extrême droite, en particulier sur la question de la contribution allemande à la solidarité européenne. » >> lire
Anna Ornstein est née en Hongrie, en 1927. En 1944, elle a été déportée à Auschwitz avec ses parents et sa grand-mère de 96 ans. Elle témoigne de son expérience et s’interroge sur ce que nous pouvons en penser alors que l’idéologie d’extrême-droite se répand de nouveau sur le monde. Par Alexandra Senfft >> lire
Minimiser les crimes de sa famille ? La méthode allemande d’auto-exonération a conduit, selon la journaliste Alexandra Senfft, à un aveuglement qui nourrit le retour de l’extrême-droite. Au lendemain du 8 mai 2020, une réflexion sur le déni et ses conséquences politiques Mediapart, France, 12.05.2020 >> read
Laster-Wallfisch’s mother survived the Holocaust. It affects the family over
First published in Der Freitag, Number 16, April 15, 2020
The Holocaust was not ended with the liberation of the concentration camps. It lives on in all those who were in contact with it,” writes Maya Jacobs, née Lasker-Wallfisch, in her debut. The 62-year-old tells very personally how the persecution and murder of her family affected her. Her mother Anita Lasker-Wallfisch survived Auschwitz because she “was allowed” to play the cello in the orchestra there – for the forced laborers and those doomed to die on their way to the gas chambers, day after day. The cellist was also able to save her older sister Renate. The teenagers overcame typhus and in 1944 were transported to Bergen-Belsen, where they were liberated. Anita was 19 then and had been an orphan for three years: The Nazis had murdered her parents.