Irit Chen

Israeli-German relations; Jewish life in Germany after 1945

I am a Ph.D. student at the Department for Jewish History and Contemporary Jewry at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. My dissertation project, which is written under the supervision of Prof. Yfaat Weiss and Dr. Sharon Livne, focuses on the Purchasing Mission to Cologne, the Israeli executive body which was sent to the Federal Republic of Germany in years 1953-1965 in order to implement the Reparations Agreement, before diplomatic relations were established. The purpose of this research is to examine the activities of the Mission in light of the ambivalent policy that characterized the contacts between Israel and Germany prior to the diplomatic relations, and in light of the affiliation by Purchasing Mission members to the Jewish-German identity.
I completed my Master degree (Summa cum laude) in Modern German and European Studies at the University of Haifa. My Master Thesis, which received the Graduate Studies Dean’s Prize for Outstanding Master Thesis, examined the work of the Israeli consulate in Munich in years 1948-1953 in light of the Israeli duality towards Germany: boycott measures on the one hand and utilitarian contacts on the other hand. I received my Bachelor in Psychology and Political Science (Summa cum laude) from the University of Haifa.
I take part in the project Traces of German-Jewish History: Preserving and Researching German-Jewish Archives in Israel, a joint collaboration between The Franz Rosenzweig Minerva Research Center at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the Deutsche Literatur Archiv (Marbach).
As part of the Da’at Hamakom project, I will examine the status of German assets in Israel and their influence on the relations between the two countries by analyzing the course of the Israel-German discussions in the late 1960’s about the question of ownership of The Augusta Victoria Compound on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem. The compound was built in the early 20th Century by the German Emperor Wilhelm II, was confiscated by the British at the outbreak of World War II and at the end of the battles of the 1948 Arab–Israeli War a Jordanian military outpost was established there. At the end of the Six-Day War in 1967, the compound was part of Israel and stood at the center of discussion between Israel and Germany about it’s de jure and de facto ownership, only a few years after the establishment of diplomatic relations between the countries.