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A philosophical study of the testimony of the survivors of Auschwitz. In this book the Italian philosopher Giorgio Agamben looks closely at the literature of the survivors of Auschwitz, probing the philosophical and ethical questions raised by their testimony. "In its form, this book is a kind of perpetual commentary on testimony. It did not seem possible to proceed otherwise. At a certain point, it became clear that testimony contained at its core an essential lacuna; in other words, the survivors bore witness to something it is impossible to bear witness to. As a consequence, commenting on survivors' testimony necessarily meant interrogating this lacuna or, more precisely, attempting to listen to it. Listening to something absent did not prove fruitless work for this author. Above all, it made it necessary to clear away almost all the doctrines that, since Auschwitz, have been advanced in the name of ethics."-Giorgio Agamben
The Sunday Times bestseller now updated with a new foreword Among millions of Holocaust victims sent to Auschwitz II-Birkenau in 1944, Priska, Rachel, and Anka each passed through its infamous gates with a secret. Strangers to each other, they were newly pregnant, and facing an uncertain fate without their husbands. Alone, scared, and with so many loved ones already lost to the Nazis, these young women were privately determined to hold on to all they had left: their lives, and those of their unborn babies. That the gas chambers ran out of Zyklon-B just after the babies were born, before they and their mothers could be exterminated, is just one of several miracles that allowed them all to survive and rebuild their lives after World War II. Born Survivors follows the mothers' incredible journey - first to Auschwitz, where they each came under the murderous scrutiny of Dr. Josef Mengele; then to a German slave labour camp where, half-starved and almost worked to death, they struggled to conceal their condition; and finally, as the Allies closed in, their hellish 17-day train journey with thousands of other prisoners to the Mauthausen death camp in Austria. Hundreds died along the way but the courage and kindness of strangers, including guards and civilians, helped save these women and their children. Sixty-five years later, the three 'miracle babies' met for the first time at Mauthausen for the anniversary of the liberation that ultimately saved them. United by their remarkable experiences of survival against all odds, they now consider each other "siblings of the heart." In Born Survivors, Wendy Holden brings all three stories together for the first time to mark their seventieth birthdays and the seventieth anniversary of the ending of the war. A heart-stopping account of how three mothers and their newborns fought to survive the Holocaust, Born Survivors is also a life-affirming celebration of our capacity to care and to love amid inconceivable cruelty.
"From the moment I got to Auschwitz I was completely detached. I
disconnected my heart and intellect in an act of self-defense,
despair, and hopelessness." With these words Sara Nomberg-Przytyk
begins this painful and compelling account of her experiences while
imprisoned for two years in the infamous death camp. Writing twenty
years after her liberation, she recreates the events of a dark past
which, in her own words, would have driven her mad had she tried to
relive it sooner. But while she records unimaginable atrocities,
she also richly describes the human compassion that stubbornly
survived despite the backdrop of camp depersonalization and
Though it has been nearly seventy years since the Holocaust, the human capacity for evil displayed by its perpetrators is still shocking and haunting. But the story of the Nazi attempt to annihilate European Jewry is not all we should remember. Stealth Altruism tells of secret, non-militant, high-risk efforts by "Carers," those victims who tried to reduce suffering and improve everyone's chances of survival. Their empowering acts of altruism remind us of our inherent longing to do good even in situations of extraordinary brutality. Arthur B. Shostak explores forbidden acts of kindness, such as sharing scarce clothing and food rations, holding up weakened fellow prisoners during roll call, secretly replacing an ailing friend in an exhausting work detail, and much more. To date, memorialization has emphasized what was done to victims and sidelined what victims tried to do for one another. "Carers" provide an inspiring model and their perilous efforts should be recognized and taught alongside the horrors of the Holocaust. Humanity needs such inspiration.
This book follows Chagall's life through his art and his understanding of the role of the artist as a political being. It takes the reader through the different milieus of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries - including the World Wars and the Holocaust - to present a unique understanding of Chagall's artistic vision of peace in an age of extremes. At a time when all identities are being subsumed into a "national" identity, this book makes the case for a larger understanding of art as a way of transcending materiality. The volume explores how Platonic notions of truth, goodness, and beauty are linked and mutually illuminating in Chagall's work. A "spiritual-humanist" interpretation of his life and work renders Chagall's opus more transparent and accessible to the general reader. It will be essential reading for students of art and art history, political philosophy, political science, and peace studies.
Topf and Sons designed and built the crematoria at the concentration camps at Auschwitz-Birkenau, Buchenwald, Belzec, Dachau, Mauthausen and Gusen. At its height sixty-six Topf triple muffle ovens were in operation - forty-six of which were at Auschwitz. In five years the gas chambers and crematoria of Auschwitz had been the engine of the holocaust, facilitating the murder and incineration of more than one million people, most of them Jews. Yet such a spectacularly evil feat of engineering was designed not by the Nazi SS, but by a small respectable firm of German engineers: the owners and engineers of J. A. Topf and Sons. These were not Nazi sadists, but men who were playboys and the sons of train drivers. They were driven not by ideology, but by love affairs, personal ambition and bitter personal rivalries to create the ultimate human killing and disposal machines - even at the same time as their company sheltered Nazi enemies from the death camps. The intense conflagration of their very ordinary motives created work that surpassed in its inhumanity even the demands of the SS. In order to fulfil their own `dreams' they created the ultimate human nightmare.
Responding to the increasingly influential role of Hannah Arendt's political philosophy in recent years, Hannah Arendt and the Limits of Total Domination: The Holocaust, Plurality, and Resistance, critically engages with Arendt's understanding of totalitarianism. According to Arendt, the main goal of totalitarianism was total domination; namely, the virtual eradication of human legality, morality, individuality, and plurality. This attempt, in her view, was most fully realized in the concentration camps, which served as the major "laboratories" for the regime. While Arendt focused on the perpetrators' logic and drive, Michal Aharony examines the perspectives and experiences of the victims and their ability to resist such an experiment. The first book-length study to juxtapose Arendt's concept of total domination with actual testimonies of Holocaust survivors, this book calls for methodological pluralism and the integration of the voices and narratives of the actors in the construction of political concepts and theoretical systems. To achieve this, Aharony engages with both well-known and non-canonical intellectuals and writers who survived Auschwitz and Buchenwald concentration camps. Additionally, she analyzes the oral testimonies of survivors who are largely unknown, drawing from interviews conducted in Israel and in the U.S., as well as from videotaped interviews from archives around the world. Revealing various manifestations of unarmed resistance in the camps, this study demonstrates the persistence of morality and free agency even under the most extreme and de-humanizing conditions, while cautiously suggesting that absolute domination is never as absolute as it claims or wishes to be. Scholars of political philosophy, political science, history, and Holocaust studies will find this an original and compelling book.
Life can be beautiful if you make it beautiful. It is up to you.
Eddie Jaku always considered himself a German first, a Jew second. He was proud of his country. But all of that changed in November 1938, when he was beaten, arrested and taken to a concentration camp.
Over the next seven years, Eddie faced unimaginable horrors every day, first in Buchenwald, then in Auschwitz, then on a Nazi death march. He lost family, friends, his country.
Because he survived, Eddie made the vow to smile every day. He pays tribute to those who were lost by telling his story, sharing his wisdom and living his best possible life. He now believes he is the ‘happiest man on earth’.
Published as Eddie turns a hundred, The Happiest Man on Earth is a powerful, heartbreaking and ultimately hopeful memoir of how happiness can be found even in the darkest of times.
A gripping revisionist history that shows how ordinary Italians played a central role in the genocide of Italian Jews during the Second World War In this gripping revisionist history of Italy's role in the Holocaust, Simon Levis Sullam presents an unforgettable account of how ordinary Italians actively participated in the deportation of Italy's Jews between 1943 and 1945, when Mussolini's collaborationist republic was under German occupation. While most historians have long described Italians as relatively protective of Jews during this time, The Italian Executioners tells a very different story, recounting in vivid detail the shocking events of a period in which Italians set in motion almost half the arrests that sent their Jewish compatriots to Auschwitz. This brief, beautifully written narrative shines a harsh spotlight on those who turned on their Jewish fellow citizens. These collaborators ranged from petty informers to Fascist intellectuals-and their motives ran from greed to ideology. Drawing insights from Holocaust and genocide studies and combining a historian's rigor with a novelist's gift for scene-setting, Levis Sullam takes us into Italian cities large and small, from Florence and Venice to Brescia, showing how events played out in each. Re-creating betrayals and arrests, he draws indelible portraits of victims and perpetrators alike. Along the way, Levis Sullam dismantles the seductive popular myth of italiani brava gente-the "good Italians" who sheltered their Jewish compatriots from harm. The result is an essential correction to a widespread misconception of the Holocaust in Italy. In collaboration with the Nazis, and with different degrees and forms of involvement, the Italians were guilty of genocide.
Nazis, fascists and voelkisch conservatives in different European countries not only cooperated internationally in the fields of culture, science, economy, and persecution of Jews, but also developed ideas for a racist and ethno-nationalist Europe under Hitler. The present volume attempts to combine an analysis of Nazi Germany's transnational relations with an evaluation of the discourse that accompanied these relations.
The year 2016 marked the twenty-fifth anniversary of statutory teaching and learning about the Holocaust in English state-maintained schools, which was introduced with the first English National Curriculum in 1991. The year 2016 also saw the publication of the largest empirical research study on Holocaust education outcomes - the UCL Centre for Holocaust Education's What Do Students Know and Understand About the Holocaust? This book presents a systematic reflection on the outcomes of this quarter-century of Holocaust education in England and the Centre's wider work to reflect on the forms and the limitations of children's knowledge about the Holocaust and of English Holocaust education resources. These papers are then contextualised in two ways: through papers that situate English Holocaust education historiographically and in England's wider Holocaust culture; and through papers from America, Switzerland, and Germany that place the UCL Centre for Holocaust Education's findings in a wider and comparative perspective. Overall, the book presents unique empirical insights into teaching and learning processes and outcomes in Holocaust education and enables these to be theorised and explored systematically. The chapters in this book were originally published as a special issue of Holocaust Studies: A Journal of Culture and History.
The great majority of Holocaust scholarship concentrates heavily, if not almost completely, on the Final Solution from the German side. The distinctive feature of this book, both individually and as a collection, is its concentration on the Holocaust from a Judeo-centric point of view. The present essays make a unique contribution by exploring issues such as: the effect of events specifically on Jewish women and children; the character of the Nazi policy of slave labor in as much as this essential program resulted in different treatment with regard to Jews as compared to other workers; how the destruction of European Jewry has been responded to by Jewish thinkers; and how Jewish values, such as the well-known principle that "all Jews are responsible for each other," were exemplified and lived out during the war. The collection also includes an essay on Elie Wiesel, and another that explores the much discussed, very controversial issue of Jewish resistance, as well as several essays on philosophical and comparative issues raised by the Shoah. (CS1075)
This book explores portrayals of Anne Frank in American literature, where she is often invoked, if problematically, as a means of encouraging readers to think widely about persecution, genocide, and victimisation; often in relation to gender, ethnicity, and race. It shows how literary representations of Anne Frank in America over the past 50 years reflect the continued dominance of the American dramatic adaptations of Frank's Diary in the 1950s, and argues that authors feel compelled to engage with the problematic elements of these adaptations and their iconic power. At the same time, though, literary representations of Frank are associated with the adaptations; critics often assume that these texts unquestioningly perpetuate the problems with the adaptations. This is not true. This book examines how American authors represent Frank in order to negotiate difficult questions relating to representation of the Holocaust in America, and in order to consider gender, coming of age, and forms of inequality in American culture in various historical moments; and of course, to consider the ways Frank herself is represented in America. This book argues that the most compelling representations of Frank in American literature are alert to their own limitations, and may caution against making Frank a universal symbol of goodness or setting up too easy identifications with her. It will be of great interest to researchers and students of Frank, the Holocaust in American fiction and culture, gender studies, life writing, young adult fiction, and ethics.
The Handbook of Polish, Czech, and Slovak Holocaust Fiction aims to increase the visibility and show the versatility of works from East-Central European countries. It is the first encyclopedic work to bridge the gap between the literary production of countries that are considered to be main sites of the Holocaust and their recognition in international academic and public discourse. It contains over 100 entries offering not only facts about the content and motifs but also pointing out the characteristic fictional features of each work and its meaning for academic discourse and wider reception in the country of origin and abroad. The publication will appeal to the academic and broader public interested in the representation of the Holocaust, anti-Semitism, and World War II in literature and the arts. Besides prose, it also considers poetry and theatrical plays from 1943 through 2018. An introduction to the historical events and cultural developments in Poland, Czechoslovakia, Czech, and Slovak Republic, and their impact on the artistic output helps to contextualise the motif changes and fictional strategies that authors have been applying for decades. The publication is the result of long-term scholarly cooperation of specialists from four countries and several dozen academic centres.
Germany's acceptance of its direct responsibility for the Holocaust has strengthened its relationship with Israel and has led to a deep commitment to combat antisemitism and rebuild Jewish life in Germany. As we draw close to a time when there will be no more firsthand experience of the horrors of the Holocaust, there is great concern about what will happen when German responsibility turns into history. Will the present taboo against open antisemitism be lifted as collective memory fades? There are alarming signs of the rise of the far right, which includes blatantly antisemitic elements, already visible in public discourse. But it is mainly the radicalization of the otherwise moderate Muslim population of Germany and the entry of almost a million refugees since 2015 from Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan that appears to make German society less tolerant and somewhat less inhibited about articulating xenophobic attitudes. The evidence is unmistakable-overt antisemitism is dramatically increasing once more.The Future of the German-Jewish Past deals with the formidable challenges created by these developments. It is conceptualized to offer a variety of perspectives and views on the question of the future of the German-Jewish past. The volume addresses topics such as antisemitism, Holocaust memory, historiography, and political issues relating to the future relationship between Jews, Israel, and Germany. While the central focus of this volume is Germany, the implications go beyond the German-Jewish experience and relate to some of the broader challenges facing modern societies today.
Virtually all of Bulgaria's Jewish citizens escaped the horrors of the Polish death camps and survived either to migrate to Israel or to remain in their homeland. Frederick Chary relates the history of the Bulgarian government's policy toward the Jews and how the determination and moral courage of a small country could successfully thwart the Final Solution.
The Holocaust has never been so widely commemorated, but our understanding of the accepted narrative has rarely, if ever, been questioned. David Cesarani's sweeping reappraisal challenges accepted explanations for the anti-Jewish politics of Nazi Germany and the inevitability of the 'Final Solution'. The persecution of the Jews was not always the Nazis' central preoccupation, nor was it an inevitable process. Cesarani also reveals that in German-occupied countries it unfolded erratically, often due to local initiatives. Ghettos were improvised while the mass shooting of Jews during the invasion of Russia owed as much to the security situation as to anti-semitism. In this new interpretation, war is critical to the Jewish fate. Military failure denied the Germans opportunities to expel Jews into a distant territory and created a crisis of resources that led to starvation of the ghettos and intensified anti-Jewish measures. It was global war that eventually triggered genocide in Europe. Cesarani disputes the iconic role of railways, deportation trains and even Auschwitz, and reveals that plunder was more a cause of anti-Jewish feeling than a consequence of it. Using diaries and reports written in ghettos and camps, he exposes the extent of sexual violence and abuse of Jewish women by the Germans, their collaborators and, shockingly, by Jews themselves. But Cesarani also reveals the courage and ingenuity of those who struggled to evade capture and fought back wherever they could. And unlike previous histories, he follows the Jews' journey to the 'Displaced Persons' camps; camps which have so often been merely a footnote in the story but where Jews languished behind barbed wire for years after 'liberation'. This moving and dramatic account captures the fate of the Jews, the horror and the heroism, in their own words. Resting on decades of scholarship, it is compelling, authoritative, and profoundly disturbing.
In May 1938, Hungary passed anti-Semitic laws causing hundreds of Jewish artists to lose their jobs. In response, Budapest's Jewish community leaders organized an Artistic Enterprise under the aegis of OMIKE Orszagos Magyar Izraelita Koezm?vel?desi Egyesulet (Hungarian Jewish Education Association) to provide employment and livelihood for actors, singers, musicians, conductors, composers, writers, playwrights, painters, graphic artists, and sculptors. Between 1939 and 1944, activities were centered in Goldmark Hall beside the Dohany Street Synagogue in Budapest. Hundreds of artists from all over Hungary took part in about one thousand performances, including plays, concerts, cabaret, ballet, operas, and operettas. These performances appealed to the highly cultured Budapest Jewish community, ever desirous of high-caliber events, particularly under oppressive conditions of the time. Art exhibitions also were held for painters, graphic artists, and sculptors to sell their creations. Levai's 1943 book (with new, additional chapters by noted historians and musicians) is the core of this expanded edition and provides interviews with individual artists who recall their early lives and circumstances that led them to join the Artistic Enterprise. The book records the technical functioning, structure, and operation of this remarkable theater and concert venue. It provides fascinating details about those who worked behind the scenes: repetiteurs, hair stylists, and personnel involved with costumes, lighting, and scenery. Because the stage was small, clever choreographic and scenery improvisation had to be made, and the stagehands were clearly up to the task. Since these artists were not allowed to perform before the general public or advertise with posters on the streets, the book describes special means devised to overcome these difficulties and bring Jewish audiences into the theater in large numbers. Lastly, the book carries the theater's story up to Sunday morning, March 19, 1944, a day of infamy, when the German army marched into Hungary.
"Multidirectional Memory" brings together Holocaust studies and
postcolonial studies for the first time. Employing a comparative
and interdisciplinary approach, the book makes a twofold argument
about Holocaust memory in a global age by situating it in the
unexpected context of decolonization. On the one hand, it
demonstrates how the Holocaust has enabled the articulation of
other histories of victimization at the same time that it has been
declared "unique" among human-perpetrated horrors. On the other, it
uncovers the more surprising and seldom acknowledged fact that
public memory of the Holocaust emerged in part thanks to postwar
events that seem at first to have little to do with it. In
particular, "Multidirectional Memory" highlights how ongoing
processes of decolonization and movements for civil rights in the
Caribbean, Africa, Europe, the United States, and elsewhere
unexpectedly galvanized memory of the Holocaust.
Introduction by Deborah Lipstadt, author of Denial
July 15, 1942, Wednesday
Remember this day; remember it well. You will tell generations to come. Since 8 o’clock today we have been shut away in the ghetto. I live here now. The world is separated from me and I’m separated from the world.
Renia is a young girl who dreams of becoming a poet. But Renia is Jewish, she lives in Poland and the year is 1939. When Russia and Germany invade her country, Renia's world shatters. Separated from her mother, her life takes on a new urgency as she flees Przemysl to escape night bombing raids, observes the disappearances of other Jewish families and, finally, witnesses the creation of the ghetto.
But alongside the terror of war, there is also great beauty, as she begins to find her voice as a writer and falls in love for the first time. She and the boy she falls in love with, Zygmunt, share their first kiss a few hours before the Nazis reach her hometown. And it is Zygmunt who writes the final, heartbreaking entry in Renia’s diary.
Recently rediscovered after seventy years, Renia’s Diary is already being described as a classic of Holocaust literature. Written with a clarity and skill that is reminiscent of Anne Frank, it is an extraordinary testament to both the horrors of war, and to the life that can exist even in the darkest times.
On 18 October 1945, a day that would haunt him for ever, Airey Neave personally served the official indictments on the twenty-one top Nazis awaiting trial in Nuremberg - including Hermann Goering, Rudolf Hess and Albert Speer. With his visit to their gloomy prison cells, the tragedy of an entire generation reached its final act. The 29-year-old Neave, a wartime organiser of MI9 and the first Englishman to escape from Colditz Castle, had watched and listened over the months as the trials unfolded. Here, he describes the cowardice, calumny and in some cases bravado of the defendants - men he came to know and who in turn would become known as some of the most evil men in history. A milestone in international law, the Nuremberg trials prompted uncomfortable but vital questions about how we prosecute the worst crimes ever committed - and who is entitled to deliver justice. Challenging, poignant and incisive, this definitive eyewitness account remains indispensable reading today.
The horror of the Holocaust lies not only in its brutality but in its scale and logistics; it depended upon the machinery and logic of a rational, industrialised, and empirically organised modern society. The central thesis of this book is that Art Spiegelman's comics all identify deeply-rooted madness in post-Enlightenment society. Spiegelman maintains, in other words, that the Holocaust was not an aberration, but an inevitable consequence of modernisation. In service of this argument, Smith offers a reading of Spiegelman's comics, with a particular focus on his three main collections: Breakdowns (1977 and 2008), Maus (1980 and 1991), and In the Shadow of No Towers (2004). He draws upon a taxonomy of terms from comic book scholarship, attempts to theorize madness (including literary portrayals of trauma), and critical works on Holocaust literature.
In Popular Trauma Culture, Anne Rothe argues that American Holocaust discourse has a particular plot structure-characterized by a melodramatic conflict between good and evil and embodied in the core characters of victim/survivor and perpetrator-and that it provides the paradigm for representing personal experiences of pain and suffering in the mass media. The book begins with an analysis of Holocaust cliches, including its political appropriation, the notion of vicarious victimhood, the so-called victim talk rhetoric, and the infusion of the composite survivor figure with Social Darwinism. Readers then explore the embodiment of popular trauma culture in two core mass media genres: daytime TV talk shows and misery memoirs. Rothe conveys how victimhood and suffering are cast as trauma kitsch on talk shows like Oprah and as trauma camp on modern-day freak shows like Springer. The discussion also encompasses the first scholarly analysis of misery memoirs, the popular literary genre that has been widely critiqued in journalism as pornographic depictions of extreme violence. Currently considered the largest growth sector in book publishing worldwide, many of these works are also fabricated. And since forgeries reflect the cultural entities that are most revered, the book concludes with an examination of fake misery memoirs.
This is the only book from the perspective of the defendant who emerged victorious. It features reviews on book pages of national newspapers, and in history magazines. Deborah Lipstadt chronicles her five-year legal battle with David Irving that culminated in a sensational trial in 2000. In her acclaimed 1993 book "Denying the Holocaust", Deborah Lipstadt called David Irving, a prolific writer of books on World War II, "one of the most dangerous spokespersons for Holocaust denial", a conclusion she reached after closely examining his books, speeches, interviews, and other copious records. The following year, after Lipstadt's book was published in the UK, Irving filed a libel suit against Lipstadt and her UK publisher, Penguin. Lipstadt prepared her defence with the help of first-rate team of solicitors, historians, and experts. The dramatic trial, which unfolded over the course of 10 weeks, ultimately exposed the prejudice, extremism, and distortion of history that defined Irving's work. Lipstadt's victory was proclaimed on the front page of major newspapers around the world, with the "Daily Telegraph" proclaiming that the trial did "for the new century what the Nuremberg tribunals or the Eichmann trial did for earlier generations." Part history, part real life courtroom drama, "History On Trial" is Lipstadt's riveting, blow-by-blow account of the trial that tested the standards of historical and judicial truths and resulted in a formal denunciation of a Holocaust denier, crippling the movement for years to come.
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