The reconfiguration of the European Archive in contemporary German-Jewish migrant-literature

Katja Petrowskaja’s novel Vielleicht Esther


  • Jessica Ortner University of Copenhagen, Department of English, Germanic and Romance Studies


A considerable number of Eastern European migrant authors of Jewish origin are currently lifting Holocaust memory to a new level. Writing in German about events taking place in remote areas of the world, they expand the German framework of memory from a national to a transnational one. By partaking in reconsidering what is ‘vital for a shared remembering’ of Europe, this branch of writing reflects the European Union’s political concern for integrating the memories of the socialistic regimes in European history writing without relativising the Holocaust. In Vielleicht Esther, Katja Petrowskaja consults various national and private archives in order to recount the history of the mass shooting of over 30,000 Ukrainian Jews at Babij Jar – a canyon near Kiev. Thus, she ‘carries’ a marginalised event of the Holocaust into the German framework of memory and uncovers the layers of amnesia that have not only concealed the event amongst the Soviet public but also distorted and for ever made inaccessible her family’s past.




How to Cite

Ortner, J. (2017). The reconfiguration of the European Archive in contemporary German-Jewish migrant-literature: Katja Petrowskaja’s novel Vielleicht Esther. Nordisk judaistik/Scandinavian Jewish Studies, 28(1), 38–54.