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Alexandra Senfft, “The Long Shadow of the Perpetrators” – The Nazi in My Family
Thursday, April 25, 2019 @ 5:45 pm - 7:15 pm
Location: Temple Emanu-El
This event is FREE and open to the public.
More than 70 years after being executed as a war criminal, the memory of Third Reich ambassador to Slovakia, Hanns Elard Ludin, continues to weigh on his granddaughter, Alexandra Senfft.
Ludin who was born in 1905 in Freiburg, Germany. He joined the Nazi party and the SA (storm troopers) in 1931. Reputedly lucky to survive Hitler’s murderous purge against the SA in 1934, Ludin eventually became the German envoy to Slovakia. He may have been a diplomat by title but he was judged guilty of being directly involved in the deportation of some 70,000 Jews.
Alexandra Senfft’s family maintained the fiction that her grandfather was merely a decent civil servant despite his active membership in the NSDAP (Nazi Party). This complicit silence was too much for Alexandra’s emotionally deprived mother Erika (1933-1998) who learned of her father’s execution while at boarding school at the vulnerable age of fourteen. Like other children of perpetrators, Erika died too young after decades of depression and alcoholism.
Senfft has been on a personal journey to discover the truth of her grandfather’s crimes and the subsequent silence that also destroyed her mother. Along the way, she has lost relationships with both friends and relatives. But she has also gained new and supportive friendships such as with the visionary Israeli psychology professor and filmmaker Dan Bar-on (1938-2008). He did extensive research on the psychological and moral effects wrought by the Holocaust on the children of perpetrators. Bar-on arranged intensive encounters between children of Shoah victims and children of Nazi perpetrators. His passion was to overcome walls of silence and hostility. Like Dan Bar-On, Alexandra is deeply involved with dialogue and conciliation. She is very aware of Rabbi Albert Friedlander’s words, “It’s not for me to forgive and I cannot forget; but we must live together anyway.”
Alexandra Senfft completed a masters degree in Middle Eastern studies and German and English literature in Hamburg. She became an observer for UNRWA, and then spokesperson for the organization in Gaza. Since 1991, she has been an independent journalist working for various German publications.
Her numerous book publications in German language include:
War Children-Portraits of a forgotten generation (2017)
The Long Shadow of the Past, Descendants Face Their Nazi Family History (2016)
Germany and Israel / Palestine fro 1945 to the Present (2014)
Silence Hurts, A German Family History (2007)