Andree Michaelis

Alumni (2008-2011)

Alumnus FSGS

Email michaelis@europa-uni.de

Andree Michaelis studied German Language and Literature, Comparative Literature, Philosophy, and Political Science at the Freie Universitaet Berlin and at Reed College, Portland, Oregon. His Magister Artium thesis was entitled „The Meaning of ‚Jewishness’ in the Works of Wolfgang Hildesheimer and Alfred Andersch“. Andree Michaelis has interned in publishing houses, such as the Berlin Verlag and the Suhrkamp Verlag. He is a „Corrie ten Boom“ awardee of the Shoah Foundation Institution (Univ. of Southern California, LA), a fellow of the Konstanzer Meisterklasse (2009) and a scholarship holder of the Studienstiftung des Deutschen Volkes (German National Academic Foundation).

He concluded his studies at the Friedrich Schlegel Graduate School in 2011. His dissertations is entitled The Media and Narrative of Testimony. About the Discursive Space in Shoah Survivor’s Literary and Videographed Testimonies (Modern German Literature).

Research interests include German-Jewish literature, Holocaust literature and postmodern literary theory with a particular focus on the authors Gotthold Ephraim Lessing, Heinrich Kleist, Rahel Varnhagen, Walter Benjamin and Alexander Kluge.

Currently, he works as an academic employee at the Axel Springer-Stiftungsprofessur für deutsch-jüdische Literatur- und Kulturgeschichte, Exil und Migration, Kulturwissenschaftliche Fakultät der Europa-Universität Viadrina.

Find more information here:




His current research deals with friendship in the history of German-Jewish writing.

Abstract to "The Media and Narrative of Testimony. About the Discursive Space in Shoah Survivor’s Literary and Videographed Testimonies":

With videotaped accounts of survivors’ life stories a new medium of commemoration has challenged the collective memory of the Shoah. On the verge of a near future, where Shoah survivors as real and vivid interlocutors will no longer be able to take part in the discourse about the destruction of European Jewry, videotaping their testimonies promises a convenient solution. As a result, gigantique archives such as the Shoah Foundation’s Visual History Archive have developed, counting 50,000 videotaped testimonies and more by survivors from around the globe. But thinking about the potential uses and downsides of this new form of preserving the memory of the Shoah has only just begun. What happens to survivors’ life stories when told continuously to an interviewer and in front of a camera? How does this setting change the stories being told? What are the advantages and what are the disadvantages for the teller? And how are we to treat these testimonies respectfully? Does it not, for example, distort the story’s integrity beyond recovery when they are cut into fragments and are rearranged into a documentary film?

In order to deal with these questions I compare these videotaped testimonies with a more established medium of remembrance. Besides film, the locus for an undisturbed, autonomous and at the same time public testimonial telling of survivors’ life stories has been literature. Survivors have written their literary memoirs long before anyone bothered to ask them about their experiences. Since 1945 literature has offered a complex and privileged discursive space for those who were able and willing to write. Writing has, at the same time, allowed these survivors to deal with their trauma, to start a dialogue and to save their memories.

In this thesis I critically analyse four of the VHA’s videotaped testimonies and compare them to four literary memoirs by Shoah survivors (the works of Imre Kertész, Primo Levi, Jean Améry and Ruth Klüger). The basis for this comparison is the discursive scope both „media“ can offer, that is, their discursive boundaries and possibilities for the survivor. One of my goals is to gain insight into the potential place and shape of trauma in the stories told. In this regard, I will focus on both narrative structure as well as on the relationship between narrative and socio-political context. The study is, thus, founded on both semiotic and discourse-analytic grounds. Furthermore, I concentrate in my analysis on the commemorative potential from an aesthetic and political point of view. Finally, I examine the comparative merit of videotaped testimony against its form as literary narrative and suggest a productive way of how to deal with the difference of the two.

Erzählräume nach Auschwitz. Literarische und videographierte Zeugnisse von Überlebenden der Shoah, Dissertation work FU Berlin, Berlin: Akademie Verlag, 2013 (in preperation).