Abstract

During the 1948 Israeli War of Independence, Abba Kovner—Holocaust survivor, Jewish partisan and poet—served as an educational officer in the Givati Brigade, writing more than 30 battle missives between June 1948 and May 1949. These missives, which were distributed among the soldiers, were a novelty that Kovner introduced to the IDF, and their poetic register, expressionist style, high pathos, and blunt and extremely violent rhetoric put them in stark contrast to all other IDF propaganda of the time. The missives were immensely popular among Givati Brigade soldiers but were met with harsh criticism from other quarters in the IDF and from prominent political leaders. Kovner, I argue, persisted in writing his missives in the face of this opposition because in his eyes they served a necessary and important function. Through his gory battle missives, Kovner sought to cleanse the fighters of the guilt and shame of bloodshed and to give words to an unspoken trauma.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1527-2028
Print ISSN
0021-6704
Pages
pp. 99-119
Launched on MUSE
2013-06-27
Open Access
No
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