Nora Krug Interview: Who I Am as a German


“The past doesn’t exist outside the present. We are who we are because of what was before.” Join us as we visit German author and illustrator Nora Krug in her home and studio in Brooklyn, New York. In the video, Krug talks about her prize-winning visual memoir ‘Belonging’, which reflects upon German identity and the repercussions of World War II through generations.

“I feel that the Second World War and the Nazi regime still defines our understanding of who we are as Germans in my generation to a great degree,” Krug says. Having lived abroad on-and-off for 20 years, she realized that she – as a German – was also a representative of her own country and its political past. This forced her to question things that she might not have considered had she remained in Germany: “Being a stranger or a German amongst non-Germans led to this urge of exploring this question from a new perspective.” For the memoir, Krug chose not to stick with the traditional graphic novel format as she wanted to create a freer and more poetic layout, and hence used collage to reflect the highly visual “collage-like fragmentary nature of memory.” The book was also a way for her to uncover what her grandparents did or didn’t do during the war, and she spent two years researching, during which she discovered eye-opening things about her grandfather – a discovery towards which her family had quite mixed reactions.

What is essential, Krug concludes, is that we continue to reflect and reconsider how we teach new generations about the war and the Holocaust. In continuation of this, she feels that we must take responsibility in the present, to help those in need and defend minorities in the time we live in: “It’s a crucial moment. We need to understand that democracy is not a state, it’s a process, and we have to constantly defend it.”

Nora Krug (b. 1977) is a German author and illustrator. Her drawings and visual narratives have appeared in publications such as the New York Times, The Guardian and Le Monde. Krug’s books are included in the Library of Congress and the Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Columbia University. Her visual memoir ‘Belonging: A German Reckons with History and Home’ (originally published as ‘Heimat’) about WWII and her own German family history was widely praised – it was a New York Times Critics’ Top Books of 2018, one of The Guardian’s 50 Biggest Books of Autumn 2018, an NPR Book of the Year 2018, one of Time Magazine’s 8 Must-Read Books You May Have Missed in 2018 and much more. Moreover, it received several awards, including the 2019 National Book Critics Circle Award and the 2019 Lynd Ward Graphic Novel Prize. Other books include ‘Shadow Atlas’ (2012) and ‘Red Riding Hood Redux’ (2009). Krug’s illustrations are recognized with gold and silver medals from the Society of Illustrators, and her animations have been shown at the Sundance Film Festival. Krug is an associate professor in the Illustrations Program at the Parsons School of Design in New York City. For more see: https://nora-krug.com/

Nora Krug was interviewed by Marc-Christoph Wagner at her studio in Brooklyn, New York in April 2019.

Camera: Jakob Solbakken
Produced by: Marc-Christoph Wagner
Edited by: Roxanne Bagheshirin Lærkesen
Copyright: Louisiana Channel, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, 2019

Supported by Nordea fonden

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