“The World of Aufbau: Hitler’s Refugees in America” by Peter Schrag— A Publication for Germans in the United States

Schrag, Peter. “The World of Aufbau: Hitler’s Refugees in America”, University of Wisconsin Press, 2019.

A Publication for Germans in the United States

Amos Lassen

“Aufbau” was a German-language weekly that was published in New York and circulated nationwide. It  was one of the essential platforms for the generation of refugees from Hitler and the displaced people and concentration camp survivors who arrived in the United States after the war. It. linked thousands of readers who were looking for friends and loved ones in every part of the world. “Aufbau” focused on concerns that strongly impacted this community in the aftermath of World War II such as “anti-Semitism in the United States and in Europe, the ever-changing immigration and naturalization procedures, debates about the designation of Hitler refugees as enemy aliens, questions about punishment for the Holocaust and other Nazi crimes, the struggle for compensation and restitution, and the fight for a Jewish homeland.” Peter Schrag in this book examines the columns and advertisements that chronicled the social and cultural life of that generation and maintained a detailed account of German-speaking cultures in exile. Schrag is the first to present a definitive account of the influential publication that brought postwar refugees together and into the American mainstream.

Schrag looks the history of the publication, the central and major newspaper of German-speaking Jews, with the story of its readers, refugees from Hitler’s Europe. He examines the tensions between retaining their culture and Americanizing and gives us a look at a generation in transition. It was “Aufbau” that linked together  refugee communities of close to one hundred countries of exile. Schrag has captured the sense of urgency, depth, and importance that prevailed at that time and he shares it with us.

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