Austrian-born Ruth Klüger was a teenager when she and her mother were deported first to the concentration camp at Theresienstadt, then to Auschwitz, and later to Christianstadt. This article examines Klüger's memoir weiter leben in which she records her memories and assessments of her experience in these concentration camps. It considers her critical stance toward the postwar Holocaust memory culture and focuses on Klüger's relationship with German thought and language. In particular, during her imprisonment in Auschwitz, German poetry played an important role in her survival. This offers new insight into Theodor Adorno's statement (which he later retracted) that “Writing poetry after Auschwitz is barbaric.“ As questions about German identity are raised, this article suggests a discourse about the Holocaust from within German culture and points to questions about the intricate relationship of a shared cultural background between victim and perpetrator.
Reflections on Auschwitz
This article attempts to demonstrate that remembering the rescuer in genocide is fraught with conflict. Data taken from psychoanalytic practice and the arena of public discourse is presented to illustrate these crises in remembering. The forgetting of German rescuers in German public discourse is particularly thought provoking. The vicissitudes of memories of the successful Rosenstrasse demonstrations by the Gentile wives of the two thousand Jewish workers arrested in the Fabrikaktion in 1943 in Berlin is discussed in detail, including the present-day Historikerstreit regarding the “real merit“ of these demonstrations. Holocaust survivors' memories of being rescued by Germans are also addressed. Finally, a tentative psychoanalytic conceptualization of the conflict inherent in remembering and acknowledging such rescue behavior is attempted.
The Holocaust in Czortków and Buczacz, East Galicia, as Seen in West German Legal Discourse
This article examines the way in which West German courts confronted the case of low-level, former Nazi perpetrators who conducted mass killings of Jews in isolated towns in Eastern Europe. Using the example of the towns of Czortków and Buczacz in eastern Galicia, the article argues that such trials, conducted in the late 1950s and 1960s, sought both to recreate the historical reality of genocide on the local level, where killers and victims often knew each other by name, and to identify a type of perpetrator who differed essentially from "ordinary" Germans, even as he was himself invariably defined as a "victim of the circumstances of that time."
Perpetrator Witness and the Intergenerational Transmission of Guilt
Katharina von Kellenbach
Based on the archived correspondence between Artur Wilke, a convicted member of Sonderkommando 1005, and Hermann Schlingensiepen, a former professor of theology who acted as spiritual advisor to imprisoned Nazi perpetrators, this article examines the moral and political lessons that Nazi perpetrators communicated to their children. In a seventy-seven-page letter written to his son in 1966, Artur Wilke tried to preserve his paternal authority and moral integrity by denying personal wrongdoing. Instead, he portrayed himself as a victim of his teachers, of politicians, and of religious and legal authorities. He counseled his son to distrust the state and the law, and to submit only to divine authority. His political lessons and deep disillusionment with the German state resonated with the radical politics of the student rebellion of 1968.
Gerhard L. Weinberg
This article covers three aspects of the Holocaust that are commonly misrepresented or ignored. First, an endlessly repeated piece of misinformation, is the description of the Holocaust as a project to kill the Jews of Europe. Most ignore the evidence that all Jews on earth were to be killed, that some outside Europe were killed, and that there were preparations for the killing of Jews in the Middle East. The second is the German expectation of winning the war, and that certain policies in implementing the Holocaust can only be understood in the context of an expectation of easier completion after victory. The third aspect is the absence from most accounts of the personal interests of those doing the killing in promotions, medals, loot, etc. in the early years and in safety from dangerous assignment to fighting at the front in the later years of the war.
Religions, Morality, and Culture
Page Dougherty Delano
This article is a study of the complex social environment within the Vittel internment camp in eastern France during World War II. The Germans arrested some two thousand British women and then nearly three hundred American women of different class backgrounds, religions, political beliefs, and national affiliations, who were placed in the hotels of this spa town. The Vittel internment camp also became the temporary home of around three hundred Jews from the Warsaw ghetto, who claimed to possess American and South American citizenship. Most of these Jews were sent to their deaths at Auschwitz. Drawing on memoirs, letters, Red Cross reports, and scattered histories, this article explores the interactions, resistance, and prejudices of camp inhabitants. It argues that American women’s behavior was guided less by religious beliefs than one might expect in the context of the 1940s.
France’s Great War from the Edge
Susan B. Whitney
/Réflexions historiques special issue on World War I in 2016. 3 Three of that issue's six articles explored aspects of Germany's harsh occupation of large swathes of northeastern France. This forum on World War I, which originated as a session at the Western Society
Letters from French War Orphans, 1915–1922
Bethany S. Keenan
cruel war.” 30 The German advance in the spring and summer of 1918, which included bombardments of Paris, also affected families deeply. Combining aerial bombing with the use of long-range cannons, the 1918 attacks meant, as Susan Grayzel has shown
The Visual Culture of the Congo Free State and Fin de Siècle Europe
Matthew G. Stanard
fundraising and promotion of their missions. 34 Amateur photographers also included individuals in service of the CFS or private companies, for instance Ghent-born Force publique officer Victor Léonard Michel and German-born Robert Visser, a merchant who
Methods for Historians Attending to the Voices of the Past
temperate climes, there should be life and grace. The Frenchman's tones should be short, piquant, airy and gay. The German's, broad, slow, reverential. The Italian's, voluptuous and melodic. The Englishman's, positive, stubborn, formal.” 82 Such