Abstract

This essay explores the Nazi glorification of the body as a tool for work and the concomitant notion that Jews, as threats to the Volk, shirked physical labor and thus were biologically crippling to the Reich. In retaliation, the Nazis degraded Jewish bodies and forced them to do hard labor, which they believed conflicted with the Jews' natural constitution. The extermination camp experience became an assault on the body, for the Nazis ultimately deprived Jews of their possessions, families, friends, homes, fortunes, and occupations—the cultural matrix that had previously sustained them. Prisoners were subjected to constant hunger, thirst, fatigue, and bodily harassment; diseases eroded their bodies. Charlotte Delbo's Who Will Carry the Word? and Michel Vinaver's Overboard are discussed as exemplars of Holocaust plays that delve into the erosion of the body in extermination camps and thus personify literature of the body.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1534-5165
Print ISSN
0882-8539
Pages
pp. 32-54
Launched on MUSE
2010-06-24
Open Access
No
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