Alexandra Senfft is a German Author


“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, antisemitic and racist 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, populist hostility to Muslims, antiziganism and racism

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,  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’ [2008]. The book was translated into Slovakian and published in Bratislava 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»).

She is deputy chair of the Study Group on Intergenerational Consequences of the Holocaust, PAKH, a member of the East-West-Forum, of Pro Asyl and Reporters without Borders

New Book, appearing March 2024 – Großonkel Pauls Geigenbogen

The family history of a Prussian Sinto
Alexandra Senfft
Romeo Franz

ca. 304 Seiten
Hardcover mit Schutzumschlag
inkl. Abbildungen
24,- € [D] │24,70 € [A] │CHF 32,90
ISBN: 978-3-442-31707-3
March 2024
>> see announcement

Romeo Franz is the first Romani person (Sinto) in the European Parliament. In Great-Uncle Paul’s Violin Bow, Alexandra Senfft tells the story of his family from the end of the 19th century through the Nazi era up to the present day. 

Characterised by the love of music, great solidarity in the family and resilience, the book is a gripping historical chronicle of the Romani people. With great narrative power this book informs about the resistance, self-determination and success of the Franz family. It is an impressive plea against discrimination and racism.

Verlust, Verleugnung, Verschweigen in Zerrbilder

Verlust, Verleugnung, Verschweigen
Reflexionen über die Mechanismen familiärer Erinnerungen – ein Prozess
Alexandra Senfft
in: Gross, Ulrich, Schuck (Hg.) Zerrbilder. Zum Wirken und Fortwirken nationalsozialistischer Mentalität
April 2024

Ch. Links, Aufbau Verlage, Berlin 2024

My Interview with Pulitzer Prize winner Matthieu Aikins

about his book “The Naked don’t fear the Water. An underground journey with Afghan Refugees” in the Greek newspaper Efimeritha Ton Sintakton

Στα βήματα της προσφυγιάς O βραβευμένος με Πούλιτζερ Καναδός δημοσιογράφος ακολούθησε τα μονοπάτια των ξεριζωμένων παριστάνοντας τον Αφγανό πρόσφυγα
Στα βήματα της προσφυγιάς


A Reckoning – Tomi Reichental & Alexandra Senfft

Holocaust survivor Tomi Reichental and Alexandra Senfft, the granddaughter of a Nazi war criminal who had a part in the deaths of some of his family members. They will be speaking in Dublin Castle this evening called A Reckoning: Jews, Germans and The Holocaust.
Ryan Tubridy Show, RTE Radio 1
November 9, 2022
>> listen

Holocaust horror can yield deeper insight into dealing with other dilemmas of history

Sympathy for victims and survivors of atrocity only goes so far: we must empathise with people who need help now

Derek Scally, The Irish Times, October 31, 2022

“Through her pioneering work, Senfft explores questions of identity and trauma among perpetrator descendants. That work has brought her into contact with survivors and their families and she has appeared in two documentaries with Tomi Reichental…

“I bear no guilt but have taken on the responsibility to face the past,” she says. “We must break the silence in order to restore the victim and survivors’ dignity and to break the spell of the victimisers.”
>> read

John Boyne: ‘Would The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas be published today?

“Only in the last years have grandchildren of Nazi perpetrators begun to break the silence on their family history in a way their parents could not. Leading the way is Alexandra Senfft – a close friend of this reporter’s – whose grandfather Hanns Ludin was Nazi governor in occupied Slovakia”
by Derek Scally, The Irish Times, September 20, 2022
>> read

Draconian punishments for boat people

Europe’s contempt for refugees’ human rights
At the EU’s outer borders, the right of migrants to a fair asylum procedure continues to be systematically disregarded. Take Greece, for example: in the worst case scenario, those shipwrecked may even face a lengthy prison sentence.
Alexandra Senfft reports for from Syros, Deutsche Welle, 20 June 2022
>> read