The Language of Silence: West German Literature and the Holocaust

By Ernestine Schlant | Go to book overview

Conclusion

The murder of the Jews is being recognized as an integral yet non-integratable part of German history. 1


The Jewish Presence in Contemporary Germany

During the 1980s, before the fall of the Berlin wall and unification, several new developments started to shape the discourse about the Holocaust in Germany. They have been taking place outside literature. The first is the reemergence of a Jewish presence and culture in Germany; the second is the shift away from literature to the most conspicuous of public arts: architecture-specifically to the construction of Holocaust museums, monuments, and memorials.

To be sure, over the postwar decades, there have been various attempts on a regional and community level to salvage remnants of Jewish culture in Germany, to establish academic, artistic, and student exchanges, to teach about the Holocaust in school, 2 and to build volunteer groups (Action Reconciliation/Services for Peace is perhaps the best known; service in it fulfills the requirement of military service). Many of these activities were initiated by private citizens and citizen groups who wanted to show their concern (and perhaps even remorse) and to make amends through personal acts of commitment. 3 They were not reflected in literature, perhaps because they never became commonly held, unconscious assumptions. More recently, members of the third

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The Language of Silence: West German Literature and the Holocaust
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • Introduction 1
  • One - The First Postwar Decade 21
  • Two - Documentary Literature 51
  • Three - Autobiographical Novels 80
  • Four - Autobiographical Novels 99
  • Five - The War on the Eastern Front 123
  • Six - Ruptures and Displacements 149
  • Seven - Restitution of Personal Identity? 166
  • Eight - Speeches and Controversies 188
  • Nine - Post-Unification 209
  • Conclusion 235
  • Notes 245
  • Selected Bibliography 262
  • Index 273
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