- The Expansion and Destruction of the Symbol of the Victimized and Self-Sacrificing Mother in Women's Holocaust Art
- Nashim: A Journal of Jewish Women's Studies & Gender Issues
- Indiana University Press
- Number 33, Fall 5779/2018
- pp. 177-208
- View Citation
- Additional Information
Historians and art historians have identified the central place held by the maternal figure in Holocaust and post-Holocaust art and commemoration. The Jewish mother is shown, alone or with her children, facing the brutal reality of poverty, hunger and war. Her figure serves as the ultimate symbol of victimhood, as well as the embodiment of feminine heroism and the paradigm of appropriate motherly behavior.
However this symbol has not remained static. An introspective analysis of a wide corpus of women's art relating to the Holocaust reveals that alongside this canonical figure in Holocaust symbolization, there are other images—mostly contemporary—of the maternal figure that expand and even destroy this traditional image. This transformation is a result of changes in Holocaust consciousness and scholarship, developments in the lives of the survivors, the particular perspectives of the second and third generations, Holocaust memory and post-memory, and feminism.