Thank goodness it’s been raining for my first week of summer break. I’ve spent the week indoors reading submissions, revising my own work, starting a background chapter, and entering numbers into a growing spreadsheet of annual German citizenship approvals. The more I work the more I realize how much work there is to do for my book on German Jews who have applied for Restored German Citizenship. How long will this endeavor take? I really have no idea.
I’ve logged many hours on the website for Germany’s Statisisches Bundesamt (Federal Office of Statistics). They publish well-organized, detailed reports with loads of useful statistics on German population, migration, and citizenship, among other topics. I’m now starting to piece together a historical overview of German Jews from every continent who have reclaimed their German citizenship. More than 30,000 people have taken this step in the last ten years alone. I hope the book will shed light on the significance of this form of Wiedergutmachung, a German term for reparations or redress.
After a fairly intensive teaching schedule so far this year, it’s nice to work in the quiet solitude of my apartment. I have at least a few more days until the kids are out of school and I’ll be forced to find a workspace at the local library. But this project will require more than solitary confinement. I also need to get out and talk to people about the book, articulate its rationale, bounce my ideas off friends and colleagues, find financial support for research, get a little moral support, and ultimately find a publisher.
Moments of doubt occasionally flicker through my mind. The biggest challenge is just finding the time to accomplish the tasks at hand. This summer I’ll also be busy with preparations to send our son Avery off to college in the UK, a vacation in Latvia and Russia, a few visitors, and some initial moves towards buying an apartment in Berlin. Maybe it will be a rainy summer that will enhance my productivity, but I’d prefer blue skies and lots of sunshine.
Photo credit: Berlinside