The non-Heimat Heimat: Jewish filmmakers and German nationality from Weimar to the GDR

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Both during the Weimar years and in the early decades of the Cold War, in the wake of national catastrophes, Heimat imagery had played a vital role in the German identity discourse. This article analyzes how German Jewish filmmakers appropriated conventional Heimat imagery to participate in and influence this discourse. The article argues that in manipulating and decontextualizing Heimat iconography, prominent Jewish filmmakers were able to introduce the aspirations and fears of integration–seeking outsiders—of German Jews—into the discourse of German nationality. The similarities between the appropriation of Heimat clichés in the works of Weimar and GDR Jewish filmmakers highlight the similarities of their ambitions and self–perceptions. In particular, it suggests that in different political frameworks, Jewish filmmakers used similar means to advocate an alternative notion of German community, which thrives in an alternative Heimat, devoid of blood and soil connotations.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)115-144
Number of pages30
JournalNew German Critique
Issue number3
StatePublished - Nov 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 by New German Critique, Inc.


  • DEFA
  • GDR
  • Heimat
  • Jewish identity
  • Weimar film


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