Between Scholarship and Community Engagement: Exploring Pre- and Post-Reunification Jewish Life in East Berlin

Katja Schatte
Tuesday, March 7, 2017 - 4:00pm

Social Sciences Building, Room 250

3502 Trousdale Parkway
Los Angeles, CA 90089
United States
A lecture by Katja Schatte (University of Washington)
2016-2017 Margee and Douglas Greenberg Research Fellow



Katja Schatte




What does it mean to be Jewish and of East German origin in post-Holocaust and post-reunification Germany? Who gets to explore these questions? And how can testimony and oral history make historical debates more inclusive and aware of existing biases?

Historians are conscious of the effects of contemporary issues on our understanding of the past. Yet, they are inclined to perceive questions about the present as secondary pursuits. During her dissertation research, Katja Schatte has learned that these questions are central to understanding Jewish life in the GDR and the effects of persecution, exile, and the Holocaust across generations. In her research, she explores Jewish life in East Berlin between the 1970s and the early 1990s with a particular focus on the experiences and activities of women. The structure of her talk parallels the path of her research, beginning with the scholarly and community dialogue happening in 2016, then moving on to oral history interviews about Jewish life in the late GDR and early post-reunification years, and finally arriving at the testimonies of Holocaust survivors that she is exploring during her residency at the USC Shoah Foundation. Schatte will touch on issues such as the relationship between the second and third generations of East German Jews, scholarly and community debates about contemporary and East German Jewish identity, Holocaust memory, and the effects of trauma and exile across generations. In doing so, she hopes to show how oral history and testimony cannot only enrich research and teaching, but also help us navigate the relationship between the present and the past in historical scholarship.

Katja Schatte is the 2016-2017 USC Shoah Foundation Center for Advanced Genocide Research Margee and Douglas Greenberg Research Fellow. She is a PhD candidate in the Department of History at the University of Washington. She has an academic and professional background in social work and holds an MA in Latin American Studies from the University of Chicago. Katja has taught modern European and Latin American history at various institutions in Washington State and is currently a staff researcher at the Wende Museum in Culver City, California.

Refreshments will be served. Please RSVP at

Read more about Katja Schatte here