My German Question: Growing Up in Nazi Berlin
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My German Question: Growing Up in Nazi Berlin

3.56 of 5 stars 3.56  ·  rating details  ·  94 ratings  ·  11 reviews
This is an account of the author's experiences as a young, assimilated, anti-religious Jew in Nazi Germany between 1933 and 1939. Gay describes his family, the life they led, and the reasons they did not emigrate sooner.
Paperback, 224 pages
Published November 10th 1999 by Yale University Press (first published 1998)
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This story was written from a different perspective than most memoirs are written. Peter Gay dwells on the emotional and psychological aftermath of his childhood in Berlin. He is very clinical, and gives many facts to support his opinions.
I'm using this for my 20th C. Europe class. It is an interesting read to build on foreknowledge about Nazi Germany. But not a good read for someone without any background on the subject.
The eminent historian of Freud and the Enlightenment tells, in this slim memoir, of his childhood years in the nascent Third Reich. It is interesting for a few reasons which may not be Gay’s own intent. First, he and his family were relatively untouched by the Nazi regime. Yes, they were humiliated, expelled from schools, forced to resign from jobs, witnessed many crimes against Jews. But individually, they didn’t suffer much, not even daily taunts or abuse at school. This is due in large part t...more
I'd read Professor Gay's book, Weimar Culture, when I was in college in the 1970s. I remember it as being rich and insightful with a good deal of insight into the cultural flowering that took place then. So, I was excited to find and be able to read his mini-autobiography on his life growing up as a boy in Berlin and his subsequent emigration with his family to Cuba and then to the United States. The question often comes up in people's minds (with the infallible benefit of hindsight) as to why J...more
I liked this memoir and I didn't like it. Gay's writing is annoying - too much psychoanalytic voodoo - although, having read a couple dozen holocaust memoirs, I understand why, decades later, he hates the Germans and is unable to be cool, calm, and collected about what he experienced in boyhood. Also, I had zero interest in his life after escaping from Germany just in the nick of time, and so the second half of this slender book was a bore. But his memories of the good life in Berlin, pleasures...more
Aug 01, 2011 Brian added it
Absolutely fantastic book. I bought this two years ago and I'm wondering how I possibly managed to keep it on my shelf, unread, in the meantime. This would be a fantastic memoir even without the issues that he addresses. Against the backdrop of the holocaust and Gay's struggle to understand and accept his feelings about Germans and his own identity, it is gripping.

Moreover, his command of English is better than virtually any native speaker. His writing is a credit to the language and a joy to r...more
This is a memoir of noted historian Peter Gay who lived under Hitler as a designated Jew. He wrestles with his ambivalent feelings toward Germany. It's a very angry book and could be difficult to read for some. He is also a big fan of Freud and psychoanalyzes himself, which I very much disliked. I would give this one 3.5.
Krzyś Pius
Out of this entire book, I felt maybe 3 of the chapters actually talked about the book subject matter. The rest was psychoanalysis and post war issues like getting his dissertation published. The 3 chapters were good enough though that I felt ok about rating this 3 stars, next time my professor should assign another book.
Good memoir of how the holocaust affected people who never had to go to a concentration camp.
Feb 07, 2009 Daniel added it
I thought it was a bit too meta for my liking
Memoir by a psychoanalyst. 'nuff said.
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An intellectual and cultural historian, Peter Gay is Sterling Professor of History Emeritus at Yale University and former director of the New York Public Library's Center for Scholars and Writers (1997–2003). Gay is the recipient of numerous awards, including the National Book Award and the received the American Historical Association's (AHA) Award for Scholarly Distinction.
More about Peter Gay...
Freud: A Life for Our Time Weimar Culture: The Outsider as Insider Modernism: The Lure of Heresy from Baudelaire to Beckett and Beyond Mozart: A Life The Enlightenment: The Rise of Modern Paganism

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