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. I completed my Master degree (Summa cum laude) in Modern German and European Studies at the University of Haifa. My Master Thesis, which was written under the supervision of Dr. Marcos Silber and Dr. Sharon Livne, received the Graduate Studies Dean’s Prize for Outstanding Master Thesis. The 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.

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 official and exclusive Israeli representative to the Federal Republic of Germany – West Germany (hereafter: Germany) before diplomatic relations were established. The mission began to operate in Cologne in June 1953 as a commercial body responsible for the implementation of the Reparations Agreement. It was closed in August 1965 with the establishment of the diplomatic relations and the opening of the Israeli embassy in Bonn.

The research examines the thicket of identities and dual affiliation of the Israeli diplomats who served in the mission. On the one hand – their Jewish-German identity, which was related not only to the geographical place where they were born but also to the cultural space where they were raised and educated, and on the other hand – their Israeli identity, which was linked to the State of Israel, the space in which they were absorbed and for whose representation they returned to Germany. Thus, the work will discuss whether the dual affiliation of the Israeli – Jewish-German diplomats to both the Israeli and German spaces constituted a channel of communication between the two countries prior to the establishment of diplomatic relations.