The Germans: Cultural trauma and the Israeli habitus

Gad Yair*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


This article reports results from a qualitative study of Israelis living in Germany, focusing on their traumatized national habitus. The study is based on 80 in-depth interviews and on replies of more than 100 respondents to an online questionnaire. The present article focuses on one specific aspect of the Israeli traumatized habitus: 'the wounded eye and the scratched ear'. Specifically, it explores the ways by which the trauma of the Holocaust is inscribed in Israeli senses. It details how respondents' eyes, ears and thoughts are activated by German mundane episodes, linking day-to-day experiences to the trauma of the Holocaust. Trains, suspect on-boarding Israelis, might end up in Auschwitz; snow brings up associations of the death marches; old people are perceived as Gestapo officers; and contemporary child-rearing practices 'explain' to Israelis the obedience and collaboration of ordinary Germans with the Third Reich. Using thick description from the interviews I expose the suspicious Israeli habitus - which always looks for 'signs' that might explain what happened in Germany 80 years ago.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)254-279
Number of pages26
JournalAmerican Journal of Cultural Sociology
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Jun 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 Macmillan Publishers Ltd.


  • Germany
  • Holocaust
  • Israel
  • cultural trauma
  • national habitus


Dive into the research topics of 'The Germans: Cultural trauma and the Israeli habitus'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this