Alexandra Senfft | Topics + Texts

My Grandfather Was Executed as a WWII War Criminal.
I Know Why Germany Still Has a Nazi Problem
It was always 'other' Germans who perpetrated Nazi crimes, not our own families.
That's the lie that has enabled the far right to return to power in Germany
Haaretz March/2018
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Nazi-era thinking never went away in Germany
Far-right populists are building on ideas that survived thanks to postwar silence.
The Irish Times, February 14, 2018
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How the children of Nazi Germany remember World War Two
A new book has gathered the memories of ‘Kriegskinder’, next to portraits of them as they are now. Photographer Frederike Helwig reveals how they remember childhoods in Nazi Germany. In her foreword, Senfft acknowledges how collective silence can infect wider groups. «Research … has shown that trauma and severe stress can be hereditary; that which is not dealt with can be passed on to the next generation.» And it leaches out beyond the family. «What is not brought to light and engaged with individually and within the family finds its way into society and politics.»

Suppressed memories of war in Frederike Helwig’s Kriegskinder
Everyone portrayed [in Kriegskinder] had the courage to face the camera and tell his
or her story, to literally show him- or herself as Kriegskind,« writes Senfft.
»Their narratives are predominantly anecdotal, with different levels of reflection.
Traumas or transgenerational effects are rarely talked about, mirroring the silence
that is common til today. The readers and viewers are therefore asked to read between
the lines, to look the protagonists in the eye.«
British Journal of Photography 12/2017
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Interview with Alexandra Senfft: A family minded person« in:
David Hertzel: »Ancestors Who we are and where we come from«
Maryland/USA 2017
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People of the Year Award
Alexandra Senfft accompanying Tomi Reichental to RTE (Ireland’s National Television)
«People of the Year Award», Dublin 6th December 2014, and commenting on his award
Tomi Reichental, one of only two holocaust survivors living in Ireland, has dedicated his time to speaking
about his experience in schools. He is presented with the International Person of the Year.

Alexandra Senfft with Holocaust survivor Tomi Reichental on Ireland's RTE news
>> Video

Alexandra Senfft With Holocaust survivor Tomi Reichental
in Bratislava, Slovakia
© Kieran Horgan

Close to Evil – A haunting and expertly-crafted documentary
Earning a runner-up spot in the Best Irish Feature Documentary Award last year, despite screening as a "work in progress", Close to Evil returns with an extended cut featuring all-new footage. An RTÉ Radio interview marking Holocaust Memorial Day in January 2012 is the catalyst for a remarkable two year journey. Holocaust survivor Tomi discovers one of his former jailers — Hilde Lisiewicz is alive and living in Hamburg. Lisiewicz is a convicted War Criminal. Nevertheless Tomi reaches out to Hilde to offer reconciliation. Hilde asserts she is “a victim of victor’s justice”. This prompts Tomi to investigate the SS woman’s claims of innocence. Unexpectedly Tomi’s odyssey ends where his story began, back in his native Merasice, meeting the ghosts from the past and embracing a German woman directly related to the man who played a role in the liquidation of Tomi’s family.

Alexandra Senfft, featuring with Tomi Reichental in Gerry Gregg’s film «Close to Evil»
on RTE 1 (Radio Telefis Eireann’s), Irleand
1 September 2014, 9.35 pm
>> Meeting Alex from »Close to Evil« by >> Dean Valentine
>> Tomi & Alexandra from »Close to Evil« by >> Dean Valentine

Alexandra Senfft With Holocaust survivor Tomi Reichental
© Michael Lee

Reichental named this year's International Person of the Year
Holocaust survivor Tomi Reichental has been named this year's International Person of the Year
at an awards ceremony in Dublin.
>> Video

Alexandra Senfft «How the Families of Both Perpetrators and Victims, and Society at Large, Have Dealt with Nazi Crimes from 1945 to the Present Day»: Participating as speaker in conference at former concentration camp and memorial Neuengamme in Hamburg,
December 2013
© Mark Mühlhaus

«Living with the Dead: Sharing the Truth and the Pain of the Past»,
in: Clio’s Psyche: Understanding the “Why” of Culture, Current Events, History, and Society
Special Issue on Psychology and the Holocaust: Part II
Meeting Report, Volume 21, Number 2, New York, September 2014, Pages 210 ff
Tomi, my grandfather is dead, but you are alive,” I say. Tomi agrees with a sense of relief as we hold on to each other, somewhat lost and yet not alone. We still have a long way to go in order to come to terms with a past that is haunting most of us up to this day. Sharing this experience with Tomi was the right thing to do. My daughter and the film team were with us and wrapped us in cotton wool, supporting us in our shared sorrow. We weren’t alone at all. Dan Bar-On once said to me “Alexandra, you might lose some of your family over working through the past, but you will find others to fill their place.” “It couldn’t be truer,” I think gratefully, as Tomi and I leave the cemetery arm in arm, nestled by a cocoon. In the face of the rising populist, right-winged develop-ments in Europe, I wonder though if all our efforts are too late.»
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Drumpower Against Violence
Drumming helps young adolescents overcome social differences,
boosts their self-confidence and enhances social peace
Neues im Freien, Magazine of the Freies Musikzentrum Munich, June 2014
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Chairing a discussion with members of the «Parents Circle Families Forum – Palestinian Israeli Bereaved Families for Peace» at the German Protestant Kirchentag in Hamburg, May 2013
© Jörg Böthling / Brot für die Welt

Silence is Such Sorrow – Schweigen tut weh
Despite the fact that Germans, both academically and politically, have taken great strides towards exposing the crimes committed during the National Socialist period, silence still continues to rule with respect to the biographical handling of the past. Not only within the context of families, but also in society more generally, the perpetrators are always »others«.
JMB Journal 6 »Generationen«, July 2012
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Chairing a discussion between former Israeli ambassador to Germany, Avi Primor, and Palestinian intellectual Nazmi al-Jubeh in Frankfurt am Rhein, November 2010
© Rafael Herlich

Problems in Palestinian-Israeli Dialogue: A European Perspective
»Sensible people easily find a compromise when they are aware of the most important needs of the other side', said Palestinian philosopher Sari Nusseibeh ...«
Syasah Dawlia, Issue 182, 10.2010
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The Photographer Judah Passow – An Eye for the Tragedy of the Conflict
The photographer Judah Passow, four times awarded with the World Press Award, abhors religious fervour and works towards social tolerance. Alexandra Senfft met with Passow in London and offers us a portrait of the man.
Qantara, 08.04.2010
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Palestinian-British Author Samir El-Youssef – The Language of a Lost Youth
The Palestinian writer Samir El-Youssef has found his identity in exile in London.
Yet the idea of a homeland has always been alien to him. A portrait by Alexandra Senfft
Qantara, 06.11.2009
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Obituary by Alexandra Senfft: Dan Bar-On – Dialogue against Walls of Silence and Hostility
The Israeli psychologist and author Dan Bar-On died in Tel Aviv on 4 September. Bar-On was a leading force in the field of intercultural conflict management between Israelis and Palestinians.
Qantara, 12.09.2008
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Obituary by Alexandra Senfft: Haidar Abdel Shafi – The Grand Old Man of Gaza
His life was inextricably linked with the history of Palestine over the past century, from the end of the Ottoman occupation of Palestine to the collapse of the Middle East peace talks. Haidar Abdel Shafi died on 25 September.
Qantara, 28.09.2007
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Militant Islamism in Iraq – Godfathers of Terror
Their sights set on the elections, militant groups in Iraq are now stirring up more violence than ever. Radical Islamists such as Abu Musab al-Zarqawi are particularly interested in torpedoing the elections. Alexandra Senfft took a closer look at Zarqawi's networks and his political goals.
Qantara, 2005
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Georges Corm – Laicism Should Not Be Seen as a Specifically Western Doctrine
Georges Corm, economist and former finance minister of Lebanon, doesn't spare the Islamic world criticism, but he also says that the West is far less rationalist than is commonly believed.
Qantara, 2005
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Alexandra Senfft | Author and Journalist |