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Barbara Honigmann

(1949- )

HONIGMANN, BARBARA (1949– ), German writer and essayist. Honigmann grew up in the Soviet-occupied zone of Germany in an assimilated family. Together with other Jewish intellectuals of the "second generation," i.e., children of Holocaust survivors, she questioned her parents' silence and decided to live as a Jewess in a religious sense, joining the Jewish community in East Berlin. Unable, however, to find her way to Jewish writing within Germany, she decide to abandon the GDR, moving to Strasbourg in 1984, where she fit into the Jewish community: Her way "from the East to the West, from Germany to France, and from assimilation into the midst of Torah Judaism," she described in her first autobiographical book, Roman von einem Kinde (1986). She understood this cultural change of position as a way out of the "negative symbiosis," out of her feeling of "being unable to get away from one another," as she characterized the relationship between Germans and Jews after 1945, and consequently as a way toward a positive Judaism. In France Honigmann succeeded in writing after she had already worked as a dramatist in the GDR and finished several plays. Her writing in German led to further autobiographical narratives like Eine Liebe aus nichts (1991), Soharas Reise (1996), Damals, dann und danach (1999), Alles, alles Liebe! (2000), and Ein Kapitel aus meinem Leben (2004), still indicating an ambivalent attitude towards Germany: on the one hand a distance from the real, political Germany, on the other an inclusion in the imaginary tradition of German language and literature.

Sources:K. Remmler, in: S. Gilman (ed.), Reemerging Jewish Culture in Germany (1994), 184–209; A. Feinberg, in: New German Critique, 70 (1997), 161–81; H. Schruff, Wechselwirkungen (2000); A. Kilcher, in: S. Gilman and H. Steinecke (eds.): Deutsch-juedische Literatur der neunziger Jahre (2002), 131–46.

[Andreas Kilcher (2nd ed.)]

Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.