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Holocaust Mothers and Daughters

Family, History, and Trauma

Federica K. Clementi

Publication Year: 2013

In this brave and original work, Federica Clementi focuses on the mother-daughter bond as depicted in six works by women who experienced the Holocaust, sometimes with their mothers, sometimes not. The daughters' memoirs, which record the "all-too-human" qualities of those who were persecuted and murdered by the Nazis, show that the Holocaust cannot be used to neatly segregate lives into the categories of before and after. Clementi's discussions of differences in social status, along with the persistence of antisemitism and patriarchal structures, support this point strongly, demonstrating the tenacity of trauma--individual, familial, and collective--among Jews in twentieth-century Europe.

Published by: Brandeis University Press

Series: Tauber Institute Series for the Study of European Jewry & HBI Series on Jewish Women


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p. 1-1

Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. 2-9

Table of Contents

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pp. ix-x

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pp. xi-xvi

...immediately after World War ii, published writing about the holocaust (in hebrew, Shoah) was scarce. but as time passed, a multitude of analyses and per-sonal testimonies appeared, creating a virtual flood of attempts to document, bear witness, and understand the Shoah. This first transition?from relative silence to an ocean of writing?became a sea change for holocaust studies....

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pp. xvii-xx

...i could never say it better than Virginia Woolf: ?Anyone moderately familiar with the rigours of composition will not need to be told the story in detail; how she wrote and it seemed good; read and it seemed vile; corrected and tore up; cut out; put in; was in ecstasy; in despair; had her good nights and bad mornings; snatched at ideas and lost them; saw her book plain before her and it vanished; ...

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pp. 1-42

The mother is the faceless figure of a figurant, an extra. She gives rise to all the figures by losing herself in the background of the scene like an anonymous persona. Everything comes back to her, beginning with life; everything addresses and destines itself to her. She survives on the condition of remaining at bottom.in Against the Apocalypse, David G. Roskies shares the following personal story:...

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1 | Edith Bruck’s Dead Letters

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pp. 43-79

No one pushes his way through here, certainly not someone with a message from a dead man. But you sit at your window and dream With these words, Samuel Taylor Coleridge immortalized the horror a person feels at being interrupted in the course of his serene life by someone who forces on him an awful truth, a story the untroubled man does not want to hear and ...

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2 | Lupus in Fabula

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pp. 80-119

All great storytellers have in common the freedom with which they move up and down the rungs of their experience as on a ladder. A ladder extending downward to the interior of the earth and disappearing into the clouds is the image for a collective experience to which even the deepest shock of every individual experience, death, in the summer of 1943, the Dutch intellectual Etty hillesum wrote a letter to ...

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3 | Auto Da Fé

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pp. 120-152

At the time of the shortest, sleepy winter days, edged on both sides with the furry dusk of mornings and evenings, when the city reached out deeper and deeper into the labyrinth of winter nights, and was shaken reluctantly into consciousness by the short dawn, my father was already lost, sold and surrendered to the other sphere.in the present work on holocaust mothers and daughters, Sarah Kofman?s ...

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4 | Material Mothers

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pp. 153-202

A two-and-a-half-minute black-and-white film recorded by Julius Jonak immor-talizes the departure from Prague of thirty Jewish children between the ages of two and eleven aboard two Dutch Douglas airplanes on January 11, 1939. The planes were headed to London, via Rotterdam. This group was only a portion of the approximately ten thousand Jewish children entering England as refugees ...

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5 | From the Third Diaspora

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pp. 203-249

So far this book has focused on mothers and daughters who experienced the holocaust firsthand. but the vortex of pain does not end there, and we can fol-low its spiraling effects through the complicated relation that postwar children had with their Shoah parents.1 Although existential, historical, psychological, and geographical rupture is the predicament of the Shoah survivor, the last ...

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6 | “I Have to Save Myself with a Joke”

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pp. 250-292

The diary is a gem. Never before, I believe, has anything been written enabling us to see so clearly into the soul of a young girl . . . during the years of puberal [sic] development. We are shown how the sentiments pass from the simple egoism of childhood to attain maturity; how the relationships to parents . . . first shape themselves . . . how friendships are formed and broken. We are shown the dawn of ...

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pp. 293-304

Holocaust Mothers and Daughters has surveyed only six of the numerous mother-daughter plots originated by the drama of the holocaust. before i can end this work, however, i feel compelled to pay tribute to one last woman, a young Ger-man painter who created art as a daughter and died in Auschwitz as a mother: Charlotte Salomon. From southern France, where she had emigrated in the ...


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pp. 305-342


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pp. 343-360


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pp. 361-370

E-ISBN-13: 9781611684773
E-ISBN-10: 1611684773
Print-ISBN-13: 9781611684759

Page Count: 368
Publication Year: 2013

Series Title: Tauber Institute Series for the Study of European Jewry & HBI Series on Jewish Women