Alexandra Senfft im Gespräch, Argentinisches Tageblatt
“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’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’ . 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.
La Croix, France
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
Nearly 70 years after being executed as a war criminal, the memory of Third Reich ambassador to Slovakia, Hanns Ludin, continues to weigh on his descendants. His granddaughter Alexandra Senfft has broken the family silence.
La Croix, François d’Alançon, 14/08/2017
«The Guiding Principle Should Always Be Humanity.»
On May 2nd, 2016, Alexandra Senfft’s new book „Der lange Schatten der Täter. Nachkommen stellen sich ihrer NS-Familiengeschichte“ (“The Perpetrators’ Long Shadow. Descendants Face their Nazi Family History”) was published. The author, the granddaughter of the „Gesandte des Driten Reiches in der Slowakei“ („Envoy of the Third Reich to Slovakia“), demonstrates through dialogues with other descendants of Nazi perpetrators that remembering the Nazi past is important for the present and the future.
By Frank Dabba Smith, London
For German writer Alexandra Senfft, who spoke to Mosaic members and guests on the anniversary of Kristallnacht, 10th November 2014, there can be no such thing as a family secret.
Alexandra’s maternal grandfather was Hanns Elard Ludin who was born in 1905 in Freiburg, Germany and hanged for war crimes in 1947 in Bratislava, Slovakia. Ludin joined the Nazi party and the SA-storm troopers in 1931. Reputedly lucky to survive Hitler’s murderous purge against the SA in 1934, Ludin eventually became the German envoy to Slovakia. He may have been a diplomat by title but he was judged guilty of being directly involved in the deportation of some 70,000 Jews.
Alexandra’s family maintained the fiction that her grandfather was merely a decent civil servant despite his active membership in the NSDAP. This complicit silence was too much for Alexandra’s emotionally deprived mother Erika (1933-1998) who learned of her father’s execution while at boarding school at the vulnerable age of fourteen. Like other children of perpetrators, Erika died too young after decades of depression and alcoholism.
In her very respected book published in 2007, Schweigen tut weh: Eine deutsche Familiengeschichte (The Pain of Silence: A German Family History), Alexandra conveys her personal journey to discover the truth of her grandfather’s crimes and the subsequent silence that also destroyed her mother. Along the way, she lost relationships with both relations and friends. But she gained new and supportive friendships such as with the visionary Israeli psychology professor and filmmaker Dan Bar-on (1938-2008) who brought together descendants of Shoah victims and perpetrators. His passion was to overcome walls of silence and hostility.
Like Dan Bar-On, Alexandra is deeply involved with dialogue and conciliation. She is very aware of Rabbi Albert Friedlander’s words, ‘It’s not for me to forgive and I cannot forget; but we must live together anyway’. Her efforts also include peacemaking between Israelis and Palestinians and acknowledging the stories of the two traumatized sides of this conflict. In this regard, Professor Bar-On was an inspiration, too.
Those who attended Alexandra’s evening held in the packed HWPS sanctuary on Bessborough Road were deeply moved by her courage and vision. At the end of the evening, when I asked for members of the audience to join Alexandra in a photograph, the very first to volunteer was Hana Schlesinger, a child of Slovakian Jews who lost many relations in the Shoah. This was a precious moment of healing.