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Approaching an Auschwitz Survivor: Holocaust Testimony and Its Transformations

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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

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. Scholarship aims to challenge memory and fill its gaps. At the same time, scholars often use testimonies uncritically or selectively--mining them to support generalizations. This book is a departure, bringing several scholars together to analyze the testimony of one Holocaust survivor. 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. They moved to New York in the 1960s. Since the end of the war, Zippi devoted many hours to talking with a small group of scholars about her life. Zippi's testimony covers a wide range of human experiences in extremis and spans fifty-odd years. It is thus uniquely suited to raise questions on the meaning and use of survivor testimony. What do we know, sixty years after the Nazi era, 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 story-telling? Can survivor testimonies be understood properly without guidance from those who experienced the events?

This book, written by established Holocaust scholars who have known Helen Tichauer for years, attempts to approximate survivor testimony and probe the limits of its representation and understanding. Contributors include Atina Grossmann (author, Jews, Germans, and Allies: Close Encounters in Occupied Germany, Princeton, 2007), Konrad Kwiet (co-ed., Contemporary Responses to the Holocaust, 2005), Wendy Lower (author, Shoah in Ukraine: History, Testimony, Memory, Indiana UP, 2007), Nehama Tec (author, Resilience and Courage: Women, Men, and the Holocaust, Yale, 2003, and Defiance: The Bielski Partisans, OUP, 1993). The book will be of interest to both Holocaust scholars and oral historians.

Synopsis:

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 use testimonies uncritically or selectively-mining them to support generalizations. This book represents a departure, bringing Holocaust experts Atina Grossmann, Konrad Kwiet, Wendy Lower, Jürgen Matthäus, 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 many hours 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 unique story combined with the authors' analysis of key aspects of Holocaust memory, its forms and its functions, makes it a rewarding and fascinating read.

About the Author

Director, Applied Research, Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies, U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum

Table of Contents

Foreword

Mark Roseman

Introduction: What Does it Mean? Holocaust Testimony and the Story of Helen "Zippi" Tichauer

Chapter 1: Designing Survival: A Graphic Artist in Birkenau

Konrad Kwiet

Chapter 2: Recapturing the Past: Individuality and Cooperation in Auschwitz

Nechama Tec

Chapter 3: Displacing Memory: The Transformations of an Early Interview

Jürgen Matthäus

Chapter 4: Living On: Remembering Feldafing

Atina Grossmann

Chapter 5: Distant Encounter: An Auschwitz Survivor in the College Classroom

Wendy Lower

Conclusion: What Have We Learned?

Appendix: English Translation of an Interview

Conducted by David Boder with Helen Tichauer

Notes

Bibliography

About the Contributors

Index

List of illustrations and maps

Forword, Mark Roseman

Introduction: What Does it Mean? Holocaust Testimony and the Story of Helen "Zippi" Tichauer

Designing Survival: A Graphic Artist in Birkenau, Konrad Kwiet

Recapturing the Past: Individuality and Cooperation in Auschwitz, Nechama Tec

Displacing Memory: The Transformations of an Early Interview, Jürgen Matthäus

Living On: Remembering Feldafing, Atina Grossmann

Distant Encounter: An Auschwitz Survivor in the College Classroom, Wendy Lower

Conclusion: What Have We Learned?

Appendix: English translation of Helen Tichauer's interview with David Boder in the DP-Camp Feldafing, September 23, 1946

Bibliography

Notes on Contributors

Index

Product Details

ISBN:
9780195389159
Author:
Matthaus, Jurgen
Publisher:
Oxford University Press, USA
Foreword by:
Roseman, Mark
Foreword:
Roseman, Mark
Editor:
Matthaus, Jurgen
Author:
null, Jürgen
Author:
Matthaus, Jurgen
Author:
Matth�us, J�rgen
Subject:
Holocaust, Jewish (1939-1945) -- Influence.
Subject:
Auschwitz (Concentration camp)
Subject:
Holocaust
Subject:
Europe - General
Subject:
Historiography
Subject:
History, World | European
Subject:
World History-Holocaust
Series:
Oxford Oral History
Publication Date:
20090831
Binding:
HARDCOVER
Grade Level:
Professional and scholarly
Language:
English
Illustrations:
10 b/w halftones
Pages:
224
Dimensions:
6.2 x 9.3 x 1 in 1.1 lb

Related Subjects

History and Social Science » Linguistics » Specific Languages and Groups
History and Social Science » World History » General
History and Social Science » World History » Historiography
History and Social Science » World History » Holocaust
Reference » Words Phrases and Language
Science and Mathematics » Botany » General
Science and Mathematics » Chemistry » Biochemistry

Approaching an Auschwitz Survivor: Holocaust Testimony and Its Transformations New Hardcover
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Product details 224 pages Oxford University Press, USA - English 9780195389159 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by , 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 use testimonies uncritically or selectively-mining them to support generalizations. This book represents a departure, bringing Holocaust experts Atina Grossmann, Konrad Kwiet, Wendy Lower, Jürgen Matthäus, 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 many hours 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 unique story 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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