WE OPEN THIS VOLUME with a double celebration. Egon Schwarz was a founder, perhaps the principal one, of German Jewish Studies in the United States, long before it was known as such. In fact, when he looks back on the beginnings of our field of research, as he does in the first piece of this volume, he first uses the term that was common at the time, namely “exile studies.” Only gradually did it become clear that Jews would comprise a particularly important group of German exile authors, playwrights, filmmakers, actors, artists, and others, such that exile studies of the postwar period would in part metamorphose into what we now know as German Jewish Studies. Of course the field has since expanded to include myriad German-Jewish interactions of other times and places as well. But at its birth, and long afterward, it was indeed Jewish exiles from Nazi Germany who defined the field.
It therefore seemed to us to make eminent sense to name the first prize for the best essay in German Jewish Studies to appear inNexusafter Schwarz himself. After all, it may well have been his Harvard course on German Jewish literature that was the first of its kind, and one we now take for granted in the curriculum. Schwarz is himself a refugee from Nazi occupied Europe—that is surely more accurate than “émigré”—and his own life story is tightly entwined with the rise of German Jewish Studies, which, as he reminds us in the pages that follow, includes Austrian studies as well. In fact, and this is something Schwarz never tires of recounting, it was the eminent Harvard Germanist Bernhard Blume who helped young Egon get a start in this country as a teacher of German. We are pleased to present here Schwarz's award speech, which he gave at Duke University in 2015, in both German and English.
Abby Gillman, the first recipient of the Egon Schwarz Prize, is our second cause for celebration. Her remarkable essay on Martin Buber 's postwar return to Germany illustrates an equally important moment for German Jewish Studies, namely the overt and sometimes agonizing interaction of Jews with the politics and culture of the postwar Germanys— usually, but not always, the Federal Republic.