Aufbau—a German-language weekly, published in New York and circulated nationwide — was an essential platform for the generation of refugees from Hitler and the displaced people and concentration camp survivors who arrived in the United States after the war. The publication served to link thousands of readers looking for friends and loved ones in every part of the world. In its pages Aufbau focused on concerns that strongly impacted this community in the aftermath of World War II: anti-Semitism in the United States and in Europe, the ever-changing immigration and naturalization procedures, debates about the designation of Hitler refugees as enemy aliens, questions about punishment for the Holocaust and other Nazi crimes, the struggle for compensation and restitution, and the fight for a Jewish homeland. The book examines the columns and advertisements that chronicled the social and cultural life of that generation and maintained a detailed account of German-speaking cultures in exile. Peter Schrag is the first to present a definitive account of the influential publication that brought postwar refugees together and into the American mainstream.
The World of Aufbau: Hitler’s Refugees in America
In The World of Aufbau: Hitler’s Refugees in America, author Peter Schrag, himself one of those refugees, engagingly details the outsized role that the German language weekly played in helping Jewish refugees adapt to their new country and become Americans. In addition to serving as a vital bulletin board for “displaced persons,” searching for loved ones and friends from whom they had been separated, Aufbau helped its readers with invaluable information on the practicalities of life in America, including the frequently changing immigration and naturalization procedures they had to navigate. Aufbau’s pages also provided extensive reports on subjects of critical concern to the refugee community, featuring articles on such topics as the designation of Hitler refugees as enemy aliens, the punishment of Nazi crimes, the struggle for compensation and restitution, and the fight for a Jewish homeland. More than the history of a publication, The World of Aufbau paints an evocative picture of the entire refugee experience.
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