Research Topic: ‘The Germans, the Jews and the Alps: How Moral Values, Bavarian Traditions and Sport were central to German self-understanding and German-Jewish claims to ‘belonging’ between 1920-1950’.
Supervisor: Dr Daniel Wildmann
Carmel Heeley received her BA in Philosophy and Holocaust Studies at the University of Manchester before completing an MA in European Jewish History at the Leo Baeck Institute, Queen Mary. Her MA thesis, entitled Volksgemeinschaft, Gender and the Nazi Concentration Camps, explored the relationship between moral sentiments, moral values and Nazism’s racialized conceptions of gender that underpinned the concentration camp system between 1933-1939.
Her research interests include: Third Reich history, German-Jewish relations, anti-Semitism and Nazism’s persecutory policies, the history of emotions, as well as the moral framework of Nazi Germany.
Working Title: ‘The Germans, the Jews and the Alps: How Moral Values, Bavarian Traditions and Sport were central to German self-understanding and German-Jewish claims to ‘belonging’ between 1920-1950’.
In line with recent historiographical efforts to work with the category of emotion, my project examines how moral sentiments and moral values formed the self-understanding of Bavarian Jews between 1920-1950. Further, how sentiments and values informed local Gentile society and as a result, were central to legitimising the inclusion and exclusion of Jewish minorities in German society at large.
My PhD is particularly concerned with the German idea of ‘Heimat’ – a primary concept of belonging – as central to how German society imagined itself. In doing so, I concentrate on Bavaria, regarded to be a site of Heimat in virtue of its embodiment of ‘German’ (alpine) landscape and folk traditions. Bavarian customs offered a way in which to demonstrate authentic ‘Germanness’, something that held different meanings regionally and nationally, and bore shifting societal functions with underlying moral and sentimental implications. By offering practices that explicitly displayed regional self-consciousness and thus professed German ‘belonging’, Bavaria offered a poignant take on the question of Assimilation. My reference to landscape and customs indicates that German imaginaries (shared mythical, religious, racial and gendered constructs) are also at stake. Analysing the emotions, values and shared imaginaries that furnished the self-understanding of Bavarian society illuminates how these, as specifically ‘German’ conceptions, played a fundamental role in determining the place of Jews and Judaism in German society especially within the Weimar and Nazi eras – a place envisaged by Jews and Gentiles alike.
By discerning how moral sentiments and values served to legitimise the position of Jews in German society, my project engages with the neglected debate surrounding the relationship between Jewry, Judaism, Heimat and Alpinismus which – as points of Jewish integration and exclusion within German society – were consequential to the ‘authentic belonging’ of German-Jewry.