Peter Gay Reflects on the Holocaust
Karen Adams, September 1999
On June 23, 1999, noted cultural historian Peter Gay, Emeritus Sterling Professor of History at Yale University and director of the Center for Scholars and Writers at the New York Public Library, gave the 1999 Monna and Otto Weinmann annual lecture at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C.
The annual lecture series focuses on Holocaust survivors who came to the United States and their families. In his lecture, "Moritz Frolich-Morris Gay: A German Refugee in the United States," Gay focused on the difficulties of Jewish emigration from Nazi Germany through the prism of his own family's experience. Gay discussed his father's painful decision to leave home and his extended family, the bureaucratic difficulties of securing an exit visa from Germany, the long wait in Cuba to secure a U.S. immigration visa, and the shock of a new language and culture. By way of this poignant account, he raised historical questions about the emigration experience. Gay declared that more research on the emigration experience was needed, particularly as it relates to women, who, he suggested, played a key role in adjusting to life in the new world. The lecture was followed by a brief reception.