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‘Auf daß sie entsteigen der dunkelheit: die literarische bewältigung von KZ-erfahrung

Reiter, Andrea (1995) ‘Auf daß sie entsteigen der dunkelheit: die literarische bewältigung von KZ-erfahrung, Vienna, Austria, Löcker, 331pp.

Record type: Book


In this literary study of memoirs describing at first hand the horrors of German concentration camps, the principal question asked is: how did the survivors find the words to talk about experiences hitherto unknown, even unimaginable? Beyond being a mere ananlysis of discourse, this book reflexts the situations in camp that triggered these responses, and shows how the professional authors adapted certain literary genres (e.g. the travel story, the Hassidic tale) to serve as models for communication, while the vast majority who were not trained as writers merely used the form of the report. A comparison between these memoirs and the more frequently discussed camp novel identifies the different narrative strategies by which the two are determined.
The concluding chapter deals with the question of meaning. While few survivors attach any meaning to camp life itself, most agree that coping with its misery, and with the memory of that misery, was greatly enhanced if some purpose could be found for their existence, whether in the form of physical or psychological resistance or of hope for a future life, reunited with their loved ones. Writing about their experiences has helped all survivors to come to terms with their ordeal, but the Holocaust has not turned any vicitim into a professional writer who was not destined to become one anyway.
Most of the 130 texts discusses here were published in German between 1934 and the present; some famous Italian, French and Polish texts and a small amount of archive material have also been included for comparison.

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Published date: 1995
Keywords: memoirs of survivors of nazi concentration camps, literary anaysis


Local EPrints ID: 66838
ISBN: 3854092466
PURE UUID: 45d80816-fba3-4370-bafd-3271911b0a35

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Date deposited: 06 Oct 2009
Last modified: 19 Jul 2017 00:21

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