Approaching an Auschwitz Survivor: Holocaust Testimony and its Transformations

Paperback | January 1, 2011

EditorJurgen Matthaus

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Among sources on the Holocaust, survivor testimonies are the least replaceable and most complex, reflecting both the personality of the narrator and the conditions and perceptions prevailing at the time of narration. Scholars, despite their aim to challenge memory and fill its gaps, often usetestimonies uncritically or selectively - mining them to support generalizations. This book represents a departure, bringing Holocaust experts Atina Grossmann, Konrad Kwiet, Wendy Lower, Jurgen Matthaus, and Nechama Tec together to analyze the testimony of one Holocaust survivor. Born in Bratislava at the end of World War I, Helen "Zippi" Spitzer Tichauer was sent to Auschwitz in 1942. One of the few early arrivals to survive the camp and the death marches, she met her future husband in a DP camp, and they moved to New York in the 1960s. Beginning in 1946, Zippi devoted manyhours to talking with a small group of scholars about her life. Her wide-ranging interviews are uniquely suited to raise questions on the meaning and use of survivor testimony. What do we know today about the workings of a death camp? How willing are we to learn from the experiences of a survivor,and how much is our perception preconditioned by standardized images? What are the mechanisms, aims, and pitfalls of storytelling? Can survivor testimonies be understood properly without guidance from those who experienced the events? This book's new, multifaceted approach toward Zippi's uniquestory combined with the authors' analysis of key aspects of Holocaust memory, its forms and its functions, makes it a rewarding and fascinating read.

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Among sources on the Holocaust, survivor testimonies are the least replaceable and most complex, reflecting both the personality of the narrator and the conditions and perceptions prevailing at the time of narration. Scholars, despite their aim to challenge memory and fill its gaps, often usetestimonies uncritically or selectively - mi...

Jurgen Matthaus is Director of Applied Research at the Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies in the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum.

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:224 pages, 9.21 × 6.14 × 0.68 inPublished:January 1, 2011Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199772533

ISBN - 13:9780199772537

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Table of Contents

Mark Roseman: ForewordIntroduction: What Does it Mean? Holocaust Testimony and the Story of Helen "Zippi" Tichauer1. Konrad Kwiet: Designing Survival: A Graphic Artist in Birkenau2. Nehama Tec: Recapturing the Past: Individuality and Cooperation in Auschwitz3. Jurgen Matthaus: Displacing Memory: The Transformations of an Early Interview4. Atina Grossmann: Living On: Remembering Feldafing5. Wendy Lower: Distant Encounter: An Auschwitz Survivor in the College ClassroomConclusion: What Have We Learned?Appendix: English Translation of an Interview Conducted by David Boder with Helen TichauerNotesBibliographyAbout the ContributorsIndex