The Study Group on Germany: Exploring the Transatlantic Dynamics in an Exile Debate of the 1940s

Almut Stoletzki


Until well into the 1990s, the intellectual migration was primarily interpreted by exile research within a national frame of reference. In the German-speaking research context the central aspects were the paradigms of loss, isolation, or foreignness while the primary focus of many English-speaking authors was on the asset to American society in terms of the intellectual input of the refugees. It is only recently that the multifaceted nature of the intellectual migration that transcends national frames of reference aroused attention.

To the émigré intellectuals, the United States were not only a shelter from the threat of National Socialism but also provided a social and communicative space for seeking answers to urgent European questions. The past experiences of these émigrés mingled with their new impressions of the United States, creating a kind of transatlantic dynamics within their statements, discussions and works. This article explores the circling of terms, topics and ideas in the course of the “Study Group on Germany” at the New School for Social Research that was founded by refugee intellectuals in 1942. The discussions of the Study Group on Germany serve to illustrate several aspects of these transatlantic dynamics.

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