Trauma and Silence: Erich Fromm, the Holocaust and Historical Responsibility

Erich Fromm Lecture 2021 with Prof. Dr. Roger Frie on Thursday, 18 November at 6pm

About the Lecture

Prof. Dr. Roger Frie will hold this year’s Erich Fromm Lecture at the IPU Berlin, titled Trauma and Silence: Erich Fromm, the Holocaust and Historical Responsibility. His research focuses on the Holocaust, the culture of remembering, and the question of forgetting. His renowned book Not in my Family: German Memory and Responsibility After the Holocaust was published in German translation by Brandes & Apsel in 2021.

Roger Frie writes about his lecture: "Erich Fromm is known as a psychoanalyst and famous author. But what remains largely unknown is the trauma and tragedy his German-Jewish family endured in the Holocaust. Reading from his family’s Holocaust letters, I will address the nature of this trauma and the questions of silence and historical responsibility. How might this unspoken chapter in Fromm’s life shape our understanding of his work? What does it mean for me, a third-generation German, to share this history with you? And how do we relate to the traumatic horrors of the past in the face of our own turbulent reality and the rise of racism and anti-Semitism in the present?"

IPU President Jan-Hendrik Olbertz will give an opening address. Prof. Thomas Kühn, who currently holds the IPU Berlin Erich Fromm Professorship will moderate the event.

After the lecture, the Erich Fromm Study Center would like to invite all guests to a reception. The public lecture will take place in English and the discussion will be held in German. This event is funded by the Karl Schlecht Foundation, and entry is free of charge.

Due to pandemic regulations, registration for the event is required. When present at the event, all guests must wear a face covering over the mouth and nose.

Hörsaal 1 (third floor), Stromstr. 2, 10555 Berlin

Registration Deadline: November 12th

The Lecturer

Roger Frie is a DAAD Visiting Professor at the International Psychoanalytic University. He is Professor of Education at Simon Fraser University and Affiliate Professor of Psychiatry at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver. He is also Psychoanalytic Faculty and Supervisor at the William Alanson White Institute and Associate Member of the Columbia University Seminar on Culture Memory in New York. Roger Frie has published and lectured extensively on the themes of historical trauma, cultural memory and human interaction and is most recently author of the award-winning book Not in My Family: German Memory and Responsibility After the Holocaust. [Dt. Übersetzung: Nicht in meiner Familie. Deutsches Erinnern und die Verantwortung nach dem Holocaust (Brandes & Apsel Verlag, 2021).

“The essential point of my analysis of Hitler is to show that he was a person who deeply hated the living. If one says that Hitler hated the Jews, that is of course correct, but in a way, it is also incorrect, in the sense that it is much too narrow. He hated the Jews, yes, but he also hated the Germans. Because as he forfeited victory and his ambition was wrecked, he also wanted the whole of Germany to perish along with him. He even said it in 1942: If the war is to be lost, then the German people will not have earned the right to keep on living. Hitler is an extreme example of a necrophilic person who kept his character hidden from his followers through the sense of security brought on by the ‘Heil’.”

(Erich Fromm 1973 in an interview with the title “In the Name of Life”, Erich Fromm Gesamtausgabe, Volume XI, Pg. 626, translation TL)