Writing after Hitler: The Work of Jakov Lind

By Andrea Hammel; Silke Hassler et al. | Go to book overview

4
Representations of the Holocaust in
Jakov Lind’s Fictional Writings

WALTRAUD STRICKHAUSEN

THE Holocaust is present in almost all of Jakov Lind’s writings, the autobiographical as well as the fictional ones from his early radio plays and short stories to the latest novel The Inventor. In most of these works it is not the explicit theme, but forms the warp on which the fabric of the story is woven, surfacing unexpectedly from time to time. The Holocaust is the underlying reference point to which all events before and afterwards are related. In Lind’s writings it does not appear as a unique and inexplicable break in civilized history (Zivilisationsbruch), since this would imply placing it on a pedestal, remote from the issues which affect our present-day lives. Quite the contrary: it is suggested that the social, political and cultural predispositions which made Auschwitz possible did not vanish all of a sudden after 1945.

Like Ruth Klüger, four years younger than Lind, who also grew up in a Viennese Jewish environment, he was confronted from early childhood with the reality of anti-Semitism. What the works of these two writers have in common is a determination to subvert the familiar embarrassed silence about the past and force their readers to think about the issue: Klüger by addressing them directly and offering the possibility of a dialogue between herself as a survivor and the children of the perpetrators; Lind by provoking the readers with the strange, absurd and yet disturbingly common settings of his stories and his fascinating philosophy of life. This chapter will trace the literary strategies that Lind uses in his fictional prose to convey sensory impressions of the social circumstances which ensured that anti-Semitism fell on fertile ground. First, however, I would like to review the ways in which Lind’s personal experience of Nazi persecution are reflected in his autobiographical writings.

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