Unreleased texts

  • Frida Bertolini, Mémoire et authenticité: le méta-témoin et le récit de la Shoah (pdf) [Remembrance and authenticity: the meta-witness and the description of the Holocaust]

    If the First World War led to numerous testimonials, the Holocaust has produced a body of narratives to which there is no significant bibliography. The texts of false witnesses discussed in this work, are based on historical aspects of testimonies, particularly, in the evolution of the remembrance of the Holocaust. The false survivors are witnesses to a trauma that has penetrated the social discourse after the Eichmann trial ushered in the era of the witness. This subsequently provided victims with a role in the public arena. The origin and the distribution of the texts, are without a doubt tied to the emergence of a new attitude towards the Holocaust, and have therefore ignited a demand from several parties, whom identify with the camp victims. The disappearance, after the discovery of a truth different from that which was told by the false witnesses, in retrospect, was encouraged by the pressure of denial. This in essence, to this day, hinders the specialists of the Holocaust from effectively evaluating testimonial of the Jewish tragedy based on simulation; on the contrary, the old questions of authenticity are resurfacing.

 

  • Gweltaz Caouissin, La Gegenrasse juive (pdf)

    Seen first as simply foreign to European civilization and then as an actual enemy, the Jew is finally perceived by the National Socialists, including their official ideologist Alfred Rosenberg, as a Gegenrasse (anti-race). This vision of the world depicts an ambiguous relationship between anti-semites and Jews, which differs from traditional racism as it opposes them rather than making one subject to the other. From this opposition arose a persecution which ended in what the National Socialists called “the final solution of the Jewish question”.

 

  • Panagiotis Gerakakis, MAUS – La transmission de la lacune (pdf) [MAUS – The transmission deficiencies]

    The extreme experiences of the camps is often considered as indescribable. Art Spiegelman, through MAUS, tried an original and innovative approach. To exceed, to some extent, the problems of narration and transmission in transmitting such testimony. The chosen medium – comics – and the particular usage that Spiegelman has done through the use of animal form and the self-reflexive nature of the work, are the two important elements of MAUS studied and developed in this article.

 

 


  • More than half a century after the fact, French film, video and fiction are mostly silent about the French concentration camp of Drancy, just outside Paris, from which more than 75,000 Jews were deported to death camps between 1942 and 1944. This is all the more remarkable considering that in 1994 historian Henry Rousso, along with French journalist Éric Conan, published Vichy: an Ever-Present Past in which the authors proposed a corrective to what they saw as the excess of memory and memorializing of the French Shoah which, they claimed, had led to an "impasse" and a "sanctification" that was preventing a factual examination of the past. Updating Rousso’s landmark 1988 work, The Vichy Syndrome, they argued that the most recent phase stood in marked contrast to the repression of the memory of Vichy during the Gaullist years, but represented just as dangerous a phase in the French national psyche. Taking up the history and memory debate in relation to narrative fiction and film, I argue instead that French writers and filmmakers should continue to search for the "narrative truth" about the internment camp of Drancy outside Paris. This was the place from which most of the Jews deported from France – to Auschwitz and other death camps – were sent to their fate. Countless stories remain to be told. These could make a significant contribution to an understanding of the Vichy years – one that would give due place to the complex moral choices of victims and perpetrators and to the continuing investigation of the années noires (dark years) of the German Occupation.

 

  • Melanie Hembera, Das jüdische Zwangsarbeitslager Pustków. Taten und Täter im Spiegelbild von NS-Ermittlungsakten (pdf) [The Jewish labor camp Pustków. Acts and perpetrators in the mirror image of Nazi investigation files]

    The Pustków forced labor camp for Jews was installed on the Debica Truppenübungsplatz (training camp) of the Waffen-SS. Between its establishment in autumn 1940 and its evacuation in July 1944, it had one of the longest lifetimes of any camp in the General Government. This article begins by showing that the perpetrators of crimes in the camp were many and varied. Nor only did the camp guards commit crimes against the prisoners, but so did those working for German companies on the Truppenübungsplatz building sites. Certain Jewish functionary prisoners also ill-treated their fellow-prisoners. The article goes on to show, by means of a study of the biography of an individual perpetrator who had a big scope of action, that he acted according to own free judgment and that his actions could have been inspired by a variety of different motives.  

 

  • Peter Kalmbach, Wehrmachtjustiz und “totaler Krieg” (pdf) [Military justice (Wehrmacht) and “total war”]

    My essay describes Nazi military justice as an instrument of  "total war". From 1939 onwards, military courts formed part of the system of political oppression in the occupied countries, and they often handed down death sentences. The Wehrmacht’s military courts collaborated closely with the Ministry of Justice. At the very end of the war the military courts acted more and more radically, but lost some of its special privileges to civil courts.
     
     
     
    The Pustków forced labor camp for Jews was installed on the Debica Truppenübungsplatz (training camp) of the Waffen-SS.  Between its establishment in autumn 1940 and its evacuation in July 1944, it had one of the longest lifetimes of any camp in the General Government. This article begins by showing that the perpetrators of crimes in the camp were many and varied. Nor only did the camp guards commit crimes against the prisoners, but so did those working for German companies on the Truppenübungsplatz building sites. Certain Jewish functionary prisoners also ill-treated their fellow-prisoners. The article goes on to show, by means of a study of the biography of an individual perpetrator who had a big scope of action, that he acted according to own free judgment and that his actions could have been inspired by a variety of different motives.
    My essay describes Nazi military justice as an instrument of “total war”. From 1939 onwards, military courts formed part of the system of political oppression in the occupied countries, and they often handed down death sentences. The Wehrmacht’s military courts collaborated closely with the Ministry of Justice. At the very end of the war the military courts acted more and more radically, but lost some of its special privileges to civil courts.

 

  • Assia Kettani, L’affaire Dreyfus sous la plume des écrivains: antisémitisme et représentations de l’Histoire (pdf) [How writers viewed the Dreyfus affair: antisemitism and representations of history]

    United in an ideological struggle against antisemitism, dreyfusard writers gave a posterity and a literary expression to the controversial debate. Modulating this literary reappropriation according to the date of publication and the mode of  representation, these authors explore the theme of antisemitism, ranging from the controversial rhetoric of the ongoing debate to a more distant reflection.

 



  • [A suggested approach to “prisoner society” in a total institution of absolute power: the example of Buchenwald]

    The complexity of social relations and internal structures between prisoners and groups of prisoners in the concentration camps was decisively determined by the extreme stratification of prisoner society. That perfidious instrument of repression – formed by the categorization system and the delegation of power to prisoner functionaries – helped to build up a rigid and extremely unequal social structure. The aim of this study is to portray the full scope of the specific “organization of terror” (Wolfgang Sofsky) in the national-socialist camps as a total institution of absolute power, using the example of Buchenwald. Another of its objectives is to reconstitute the processes of behaviour and interaction illustrated by the conflicts between the “Reds” and the “Greens” to obtain leadership of the prisoner society, the birth of rules and the corresponding penalties for breaking them, and the models of solidarity which were created.

 

 


  • Primo Levi is mostly known for his If This is a Man (1947), in which he narrated his experience in Auschwitz. Forty years after, in 1986, he published The Drowned and the Saved, in which he rethought the understanding of Lager against the risks of simplification and the fallacies of memory. This book is commonly linked with the concept of gray zone, a term which Levi himself coined and that nowadays has come in the common use and in socio-political analysis. In understanding how Levi developed this concept, we find an interesting genealogy that is worth exploring.

 

  • Béatrice Rabaglia, La série Eingedunkelt de Paul Celan: l'obscurité de l'exil (pdf) [Eingedunkelt series: the obscurity of exile]

    Paul Celan (1920-70), a German-speaking Romanian Jew known as the poet of the Shoah, lived his entire life in exile. Deprived by the Nazis of his homeland and his native language, he sought to reconstruct them in poetry, making his poems a new linguistic space and a memorial site. The Eingedunkelt (‘Benighted’) bears forceful witness to the despair of a man without a country, and his faith in literature as an imperative of remembrance.

 

  • Ilaria Renzi, Le dinamiche di gruppo nei campi di concentramento nazisti: il Molise (pdf) [Group Dynamics in Nazi Concentration Camps: The Region of Molise]

    During 1939 was identified a list of municipalities which belonged to Central and Southern Italy and which had little importance for military strategies. These municipalities were far enough from war-relevant zones and were designed to the interment of foreign and italian (considered “inferior”) war prisoners. One of these municipalities was the district of Campobasso (which now is the main city of the region Molise but belonged, at that time, to the region of Abruzzo). Among the municipalities of the district of Campobasso were chosen 6 locations: Agnone, Boiano, Bonefro (never active), Casacalenda, Isernia and Vinchiaturo. Between 1940 and 1943, 292 Jews were locked up in buildings, former convents, private houses requisitioned for the purpose of their conversion in concentration camps.
    These prisoner were subjected to strict surveillance by the police and rigid administrative rules: they  couldn’t leave town confinement; they could not discuss politics; they  had to strictly respect entry and exit hours, keep a good conduct and not arouse suspicion, and their correspondence was subject to strict censorship. The food was administered by people outside the camps, in return for money.
    The direction of the concentration camps was entrusted to commissioners of public security mission, supervisioned by police officers which were charged of surveillance and accompaniment of prisoners during walks allowed within the designated perimeter.
    In the female camps, the male director was accompanied by a female director, which was usually a local person not employed in government, but with an active role in organization of the fascist party. She was in charge of direct surveillance of female prisoners and responsible for their compliance of requirements and prohibitions.
    One of the purposes of surveillance by the agents was to avoid excessive familiarity and solidarity relationship between the prisoner and inhabitants of the place: for the sake of morality, it was necessary that these relationships were prevented, and in the case, interrupted with the transfer of the prisoner in other camps.
    Despite these limitations, the locals were receptive to prisoners, helping them whenever possible.
    The article then reported evidences of Jews confined in Molise, in the period after the armistice of September 8, 1943, in nazist concentration camps.

 



  • [Writing to survive: the phenomenon of private diaries in the Nazi concentration camps. Motivations – Purposes – Language]

    To try to draw a conclusion from this brief analysis of linguistic markers in private diaries kept in the Nazi camps, it is necessary to accept that this method produces only a rudimentary image, and that it is possible to think of many other methods for analyzing those diaries. Even then it is necessary to show that the analysis of linguistic markers may enable us to become aware of the motivations which led the diarists to write, and that those motivations cannot be shown from the contents of the texts on their own. Recourse to metaphors provides one possibility for putting what was almost inexpressible into words and thus assimilating it for oneself, while also establishing it for a future generation. This is the main wish expressed in the documents and testimony. Recourse to metaphors may also be conceived as a linguistic strategy for distinguishing the writer from others, as shown by the example of Renata Laqueur. It is clear that the care taken over these distinctions is not only valid for the camp environment, but also applies directly to the diarist’s companions in misfortune, and aids the writer’s self-preservation – writing to survive. As a result, the analysis of linguistic usage sheds light on the hierarchical structures of the camp as seen by the prisoners. That is why this study, presented methodically, may be seen as a plea for giving greater consideration to the linguistic formation of these texts of these private diaries, since these nuanced statements make it possible to describe not only the structure of “daily life in the camps”, but also how an individual experiences the concentration camp as an immediate fact in time and space.

 

 

 

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