The Jewish Return to Germany

  • Pascale R. Bos
Part of the Studies in European Culture and History book series (SECH)


In 1947, Grete Weil-Dispeker returned to Germany after a twelve-year absence. Having lived in exile in Amsterdam since December 1935 (spending September 1943 to May 1945 in hiding), now 41 years old and a widow, she was eager to return. For as she saw it, the mood in Germany befit her own. After having briefly visited Sweden and Switzerland immediately after the war, she realized that she could not feel at home there, as people had little awareness of the immense suffering caused by the Nazis: “In both countries, I conclude that I cannot live among people who have experienced nothing or almost nothing.”1 Having been an eyewitness to the deportation of the Dutch Jews, having lost her husband (who was killed in Mauthausen), having lived under the threat of murder herself, she was unable to just return to normalcy: “I couldn’t have returned in ‘45 to an intact country, it would have made me furious…”2 Instead, she felt that the defeated, divided, bombed-out German nation was as destroyed as she was: “The ruins? They suited me, not only the German cities had been ruined by war, I had been, too.”3


Nazi Regime Cultural Climate Occupied Zone Jewish Survivor Jewish Victim 
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© Pascale R. Bos 2005

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