Lives remembered : memoirs of German-Jewish women who left Germany in the 1930s / by Sabine Yael Meyer.
This interdisciplinary study examines issues relating to history, memory, gender, and identity by looking at forty-seven unpublished memoirs of female Jewish survivors of the Holocaust. The memoirs represented were written between the early 1940s and the 1990s; all of them were originally composed in German; their authors were German or Austrian nationals.The research questions guiding the analysis address the identity of the authors, as well as their intention and motivation to engage in writing their life histories. Who is writing? How do the accounts represent the authors' identities? How do the texts construct gendered, national, Jewish identities? How do the authors' nationality, religion, ethnicity, class and gender shape their experiences and observations? How do the writers remember their formative years? How do they reflect on their families and their professional lives? How do these survivors deal with the experience of loss, displacement and exile? What motivated these women to write their memoirs? The analysis also reflects on the nature of written testimonial accounts as historical documents on the one hand, and mediated textual constructs on the other. The inquiry includes a brief discussion of the status of eyewitness accounts in the study of history, and the contentious 'truth' status of testimonial accounts.The main focus of the analysis is on memoirs as literary constructs, which employ a wide range of literary and rhetorical devices, and generally adhere to the generic conventions of autobiography. Autobiographical genres in general, and memoirs in particular, offer important insights on how we act in the world and subsequently reflect on our actions and experiences. They invite us to examine the role of human beings as historical agents who write history from a subjective viewpoint. It is at this intersection of the study of literature, history and culture where autobiographical writing enhances our understanding of history.
Record last modified: 2018-05-18 16:20:00
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