"Now I’ve become a stranger in my own hometown." Representations of Home in the Diaries of Willy Cohn.

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Annelies Augustyns

Abstract

Willy Cohn describes in his diaries, published as Kein Recht, nirgends.
Tagebuch vom Untergang des Breslauer Judentums,
1933 1941 (2007), his alienation from his native Breslau during the Third Reich. This city, home to the third largest Jewish
Community of the German Reich, offers an enlightening context by which to reflect u pon how victims express, in written diaries,
their feeling of estrangement. This sense of homelessness in Breslau becomes ever more outspoken due to the völkisch ideology
and anti Semitism. Shortly before Christmas 1938, for instance, Cohn expresses that h e no longer belongs to the social fabric
of the city and that he feels like an outsider in his own Heimat: “I went to the city! […] I feel like a stranger in the inne r city.
People are everywhere, buying the last things for Christmas. We don’t belong there anymore!” 1 This feeling of homelessness
increases as anti Semitic measures become worse. This contribution shows what it means to live in a city where Nazis have
taken control: where could Cohn still find a place of refuge, what places would become important and feel like a kind of new
“home”? How is Cohn’s alienation from the city he used to love represented in his diaries? How do the changes in the urban
environment influence his idea of “home”?

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