Post-Holocaust German-Jewish Symbiosis: Ephraim Kishon and the Germans

Moshe Zimmermann

(Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel)

6.30pm, 13 October 2022

The bon mot ‘A German joke is no laughing matter’ is attributed to Mark Twain. Improvising on Adorno’s dictum ‘writing poetry after Auschwitz is barbaric’ one might consider writing humour in the German language after Auschwitz a contradiction in terms. Yet, this was the gap into which the Israeli author Ephraim Kishon, a Holocaust survivor from Hungary, stepped. The most successful humourist of the Federal Republic, his humour was rooted in the everyday life of Israeli Jews, his writing tradition belonged to Central-Europe, his Hebrew-German translator was a well-known Austrian author and his German audience was the generation of the perpetrators and the post-war generation. The lecture will examine explanations for Kishon’s success in Germany.

Moshe Zimmermann is Professor emeritus for German History. Formerly Director of the Richard-Koebner-Center for German History, Hebrew University, Jerusalem (1986-2012), he held many Visiting Professorships around the world and has won numerous academic prizes for his work. He is the author of several books and involved with curriculum planning at the Ministry of Education.


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