Post-War Lives after Volkswagen
The ways of life of Jewish survivors after the liberation are documented in a new publication of the series “Forschung Positionen Dokumente” (Research Positions Documents) relating to the history of the Volkswagen Corporation. The volume of essays and documents named “Nachkriegswege nach Volkswagen. Jüdische Überlebende zwischen Befreiung und neuer Identität” (Post-war lives after Volkswagen. Jewish survivors between liberation and new identity) was compiled in cooperation with the International Tracing Service (ITS) and was presented at the Centrum Judaicum on August 20.
Moshe Shen, Julie Nicholsen, Sara Frenkel and Sally Perel all spent some time in the Volkswagen plant during the Shoah, either as Jewish forced laborers or protected by false identities. Their personal memories and lives had already been presented in 2005 in the publication “Überleben in Angst. Vier Juden berichten über ihre Zeit im Volkswagenwerk in den Jahren 1943 bis 1945” (Survival in fear. Four Jews report on their time in the Volkswagen plant in the years 1943 to 1945). Now the Corporate History Department of the Volkswagen AG has dedicated another book to these four Holocaust survivors, chiefly drawing attention to the years after 1945. The book focuses on future-oriented decisions of the four people that allowed them after years of persecution and after their liberation to develop their own identities again in a self-determined way. The cooperation with the International Tracing Service (ITS) Bad Arolsen provided the opportunity of portraying their lives on the basis of documents. For example, the archives of the ITS hold documents about Displaced Persons who were cared for by international relief organizations like UNRRA (United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration) and IRO (International Refugee Organization) after the war. Moreover, selected documents from the time of persecution were included, which had not been accessible for research at the time of the publication of the 2005 volume presenting the reports of their memories.
Three essays focusing on selected facets of the German wartime and post-war history supplement the documentary traces. Dr. Manfred Grieger, historian and head of the Corporate History Department at Volkswagen, deals with the administrative processes and the omnipresent lists of the National Socialist system and with the survival in the post-war period. René Bienert, staff member at the Research and Education Branch of the ITS, reports on how the survivors define themselves when they look at the records of their registration as Displaced Persons. Dr. Susanne Urban, head of the Research and Education Branch of the ITS, describes their course of action and their decisions during and after the Shoah that influenced their ways of life. The historian had already interviewed the four survivors during the preparation of the first book. The authors and editors deeply regret that Moshe Shen and Julie Nicholsen did not live to see the publication of this second book, which also provides material for educational work.
The Volkswagen AG and the ITS share the obligation to remember the fates of Jewish survivors and would like to illustrate at the same time that these people, although they were victimized, had always been acting subjects as well. For many years, the Volkswagen AG has concerned itself with the company’s history during the National Socialist era and appreciates the cooperation with the ITS also with a view to the documents that have become available.
The book is available now:
René Bienert, Manfred Grieger, Susanne Urban
“Nachkriegswege nach Volkswagen. Jüdische Überlebende zwischen Befreiung und neuer Identität.”
Volume 5 of the series “Forschung Positionen Dokumente. Schriften zur Unternehmensgeschichte von Volkswagen”
155 pages, paperback, € 19,90
The publication is also available as download under
The 4th edition of the publication of 2005 has been released in 2014:
Manfred Grieger/Ulrike Gutzmann (Hg.)
“Überleben in Angst. Vier Juden berichten über ihre Zeit im Volkswagenwerk in den Jahren 1943 bis 1945.”
4th Edition, Wolfsburg 2014