Edgar and Brigitte: A German Jewish Passage to America is the fruit of an extraordinary archive of personal journals, letters, speeches, and published writings left by Edgar and Brigitte Bodenheimer, who emigrated from Nazi Germany in 1933 and became American law professors. More German than Jewish, highly educated, and saturated to the core in the German cultural ideal of Bildung, Edgar and Brigitte embody many of the qualities of their generation of German Jews in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
The couple’s encounters with the strange new dynamics of race, religion, and the workplace in their new American home offer a compelling account of the struggles that faced many immigrants with deep German roots. It is also an intimate portrait of a now vanished German Jewish culture as it played out in the lives of Bodenheimer’s parents and her grandparents from the 1920s to the late 1960s, a story of emigration, assimilation, and the private struggles that accompany those forced shifts in orientation.
The Bodenheimers’ letters and journals offer engaging perspectives into their personal lives that retrospective memories cannot match. Braiding intimate biography together with history and memoir, Edgar and Brigitte will appeal both to historians of the European Jewish diaspora and to readers interested in the struggles and resilience of people whose lives were upended by Hitler.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Rosemarie Bodenheimer is a professor emerita of English with a focus on Victorian Studies at Boston College. She is the author of Knowing Dickens and The Real Life of Mary Ann Evans: George Eliot, Her Letters and Fiction, which was chosen as a CHOICE Outstanding Academic Book.
PRAISE FOR EDGAR AND BRIGITTE
“Edgar and Brigitte presents a multifaceted look back at the German origins of two Jewish families, their relatives, friends, and professional colleagues. Based on letters and diary entries, Rosemarie Bodenheimer retraces the early emigration of her mother’s and father’s families to the United States and describes how they adapted and put down roots in their new home country.”
—Tobias Brinkmann, editor of Points of Passage: Jewish Transmigrants from Eastern Europe in Scandinavia, Germany, and Britain, 1880-1914
“This sensitive, well-written consideration of Edgar and Brigitte’s lives allows the reader insight into this family and their relationship to twentieth-century historical events.”
—Kirsten Fermaglich, author of American Dreams and Nazi Nightmares: Early Holocaust Consciousness and Liberal America, 1957-1965
Jews and Judaism: History and Culture
Mark K. Bauman and Adam Mendelsohn, series editors
ISBN: 978-0-8173-1925-0 Cloth
ISBN: 978-0-8173-9022-8 Ebook