Antisemitism and Xenophobia in Germany after Unification. Edited by Hermann Kurthen, Werner Bergmann, and Ranier Erb. New York: Oxford University Press, 1997. xv + 318 pp. np.
The unification of Germany almost a decade ago raised concerns, both inside Germany and abroad, over the prospect of an increase in antisemitism amid xenophobia. Several highly publicized acts of violence targeted at Jewish sites and groups of non-German refugees reinforce these concerns. The fact that several of the more egregious episodes occurred in the former East Germany seemed to confirm the widely held suspicion that, behind the facade of communist rhetoric, the East Germans had retained more of the traditional German prejudices than had their cousins in the west.
Scholars from many countries and a variety of disciplines have attempted to measure, explain, and contextualize these manifestations of intolerance in united Germany. Kurthen, Bergmann, and Erb have brought together the findings of studies undertaken by German, Austrian, and North American social scientists. The resulting volume will prove invaluable to specialists in German studies, antisemitism, and contemporary European racism.
The volume's thirteen contributions are divided into three sections. The first, "Facts and Findings," presents the data generated by several empirical studies conducted in Germany in the early-to-mid 1990s. Special attention is given to identifying the perpetrators of antisemitic and anti-foreigner violence and to documenting popular attitudes toward Jews and foreigners. The second section presents several detailed case studies of specific movements and groups propagating antisemitism and xenophobia. The last section examines perceptions of, and reactions to, German antisemitism and xenophobia in Jewish communities, in the United States, and within German society itself. The editors have added two very useful appendices to the end of the volume: a chronology of "Antisemitic and Extreme Right-Wing Events in Germany during and after Unification, 1989-1994," and a twenty-three-page bibliography of relevant publications.
It is difficult in a short review to do justice to the complexity of the anthology's thirteen contributions. But a few common …