Alexandra Senfft is a German Author

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“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 at the University College London, the Leo Baeck College (London), Ben Gurion University (Israel) and Austen Riggs Center (Stockbridge, USA) and the 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’ [2008]. The book will also be published in Slovakia soon.

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»).

 

Αλεξάνδρα Σενφτ: «Φοβόμουν πολύ την αλήθεια για το ναζιστικό παρελθόν»

Η Αλεξάνδρα Σενφτ είναι εγγονή του Χανς Λούντιν, πρεσβευτή του Γ´Ράιχ στη Σλοβακία και συνυπεύθυνου για την εξόντωση 60.000 Εβραίων. «Η καταβολή αποζημιώσεων στην Ελλάδα είναι μια ελάχιστη χειρονομία» δηλώνει.

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Αλεξάνδρα Σενφτ: «Η σιωπή πονάει», Βερολίνο 2007. Στο εξώφυλλο εικονίζεται ο Χίτλερ με τον παππού της Χανς Λούντιν και τη μητέρα της Έρικα

Αλεξάνδρα Σενφτ: «Η σιωπή πονάει», Βερολίνο 2007. Στο εξώφυλλο εικονίζεται ο Χίτλερ με τον παππού της Χανς Λούντιν και τη μητέρα της Έρικα

Deutsche Welle

Για διαφορετικούς βεβαίως λόγους, ωστόσο η σιωπή φαίνεται να παίζει καταλυτικό ρόλο. Η σιωπή όμως πονάει, όπως γράφει η Αλεξάντρα Σενφτ στο βιβλίο για την αλκοολική και καταθλιπτική μητέρα της (Das Schweigen tut weh, εκδόσεις List), και η σιωπή θα πρέπει να σπάσει ώστε να επουλωθούν τα τραύματα του παρελθόντος.

Τέλος, τα θύματα και οι δράστες δεν ήταν αφηρημένοι αριθμοί. Υπήρξαν συγκεκριμένοι άνθρωποι με συγκεκριμένη συμπεριφορά. Οι απόγονοι των δραστών δεν ευθύνονται για τις πράξεις των προγόνων τους. Βαρύνονται όμως από αυτές.

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How the children of Nazi Germany remember World War Two

A new book has gathered the memories of ‘Kriegskinder’, next to portraits of them as they are now. Photographer Frederike Helwig reveals how they remember childhoods in Nazi Germany. In her foreword, Senfft acknowledges how collective silence can infect wider groups. «Research … has shown that trauma and severe stress can be hereditary; that which is not dealt with can be passed on to the next generation.» And it leaches out beyond the family. «What is not brought to light and engaged with individually and within the family finds its way into society and politics.»
>> www.bbc.com/culture/story/20180123-how-the-children-of-nazi-germany-remember-world-war-two

The Long Shadow of the Past

The Long Shadow of the Past
Descendants Face Their Nazi Family History
Alexandra Senfft
Language German
World Rights available
Hardcover, 336 pages, 2 May 2016
ISBN 978-3-492-05739-4
€ 22,00 [D], € 22,70 [A]
Paperback, 352 pages, 12 January 2018
ISBN: 978-3-492-31213-4
€ 11,00 [D], € 11,40 [A]

Also available as eBook
>> order now

 

«Even today, the trauma of the Second World war, the still-raw crimes committed by the Nazis and the silence of those responsible are making themselves felt.»
Alexandra Senfft

During numerous events for her previous book Schweigen tut weh (Silence Hurts), Alexandra Senfft witnessed, how children and grandchildren of Nazi perpetrators break their silence: Her conversations reveal long-kept family secrets with painful emotional effects. In this book, for the first time, the silence within the families is related to other traumas that were passed on through generations. Building on research on transgenerational transmission, she illustrates in 9 moving portraits how silence became a burden. The very personal point of view helps to break the ritualised patterns of narration, reveal identification with the perpetrators and point out ambivalences. Most protagonists have come to terms with their family past and are taking an active stance against Xenophia and radical right wing. The portraits do not deal with perpetrators from the first row but with blind followers and war profiteers who, after the war, were caring mothers and fathers – but have never been held to account and could settle in their silence.

Suppressed memories of war in Frederike Helwig’s Kriegskinder

»Everyone portrayed [in Kriegskinder] had the courage to face the camera and tell his
or her story, to literally show him- or herself as Kriegskind,« writes Senfft.
»Their narratives are predominantly anecdotal, with different levels of reflection.
Traumas or transgenerational effects are rarely talked about, mirroring the silence
that is common til today. The readers and viewers are therefore asked to read between
the lines, to look the protagonists in the eye.«
British Journal of Photography 12/2017
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Alexandra Senfft, l’héritage du silence du Troisième Reich

Près de 70 ans après sa condamnation à mort et son exécution comme criminel de guerre, la mémoire de Hanns Ludin, ambassadeur du Troisième Reich en Slovaquie, continue à peser sur ses descendants. Alexandra Senfft, sa petite-fille, a brisé le déni familial.
La Croix, François d’Alançon, 14/08/2017
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Cemetery Spötting Landsberg am Lech © Maurice Weiss/Agentur Ostkreuz