German Travelogue Unveils Stubborn Anti-Semitism

'I Sleep in Hitler's Room' Sheds Light on Lingering Hate

One of Us: Writer and editor Tuvia Tenenbom’s Aryan appearance disarmed his subjects and allowed them to reveal their prejudices.
Courtesy Tuvia Tenenbom
One of Us: Writer and editor Tuvia Tenenbom’s Aryan appearance disarmed his subjects and allowed them to reveal their prejudices.

By Rukhl Schaechter

Published January 14, 2013, issue of January 18, 2013.
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An unusual book was published recently in Germany: a travelogue that reveals, through hundreds of interviews in nearly 40 cities and towns in Germany, a disturbing obsession with the Jews, as well as outright anti-Semitism, among the German population today.

The book, “Allein Unter Deutschen” (“Alone Among Germans”), published by the European publisher, Suhrkamp, is a German translation of the English original, “I Sleep in Hitler’s Room.” The author, Tuvia Tenenbom, had published “I Sleep…” in the United States in 2011 with the Jewish Theater of New York, of which he is the founder and director.

Since the publication of the German version, it has become a Spiegel best seller, equivalent to The New York Times best-seller list — a true victory for Tenenbom, who until recently had been unable to find a publisher for his candid and unsettling book.

During a recent interview with the Forverts in his Manhattan office, Tenenbom, the New York- and Berlin-based columnist of the German national weekly newspaper Die Zeit explained how the German publisher Rowohlt commissioned him to travel around the country and talk to Germans, then write about their thoughts and feelings, using the same folksy style he uses in his column on sport and fitness. (His essays are written tongue-in-cheek, as Tenenbom is rather stout and smokes a pack of cigarettes a day.)

“I thought it was a great idea, and would be lots of fun because I enjoy talking to people,” Tenenbom remarked.

But as he engaged people in conversation, he discovered two distinct qualities about the Germans: First, that they drink an excessive amount of beer, and second, that many of them harbored disturbingly negative views about Jews and Israel.

As the owner of an elegant hotel and restaurant in Wannsee, Germany, remarked: “Everybody knows that the Jews control the American economy.”


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