Germany as Victim Author(s): Omer Bartov Reviewed work(s): Source: New German Critique, No.
80, Special Issue on the Holocaust (Spring - Summer, 2000), pp. 29-40 Published by: New German Critique Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/488631 . Accessed: 01/03/2013 19:19
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in and was camp"nearCratranspires. that and of Both books appearedto have an autobiographical element and both were written men in their the fifties.as Germany Victim
In 1995 two smallbookspublished German in becameinternational the bestsellersand quickly entered canonof Holocaust literature from twopolarperspectives: of theperpetrators that thevictims. meeting Michaelalso studies andbecomes published a author.a of judge. are as for and realities as horrifying its implications individual collecand are tiveidentity troubling contentious. (Zurich: 1995).
1.Michaelwas also bornin 1944. Reader(New York:Random House.The protagopracticing whenhe is fifteen-years-old nist. by thereby straddling fineline and between often traumapersonal experience thesecondgeneration's tizedconsciousness.hence. Bernhard The Schlink.meetsHannaSchmitz in and comments thebookindicate the that and she is thirty-six. law. degree theauthors' personal engagein mentin theevents is describe inherent their they respective impact raisesquestions and and simultaneously abouttheir authenticity moral At of are candor. the of Indeed. The of between Schlink's Readeris thestory a relationship Bernhard as it later manandan olderwoman German a "secondgeneration" who.Originally as Heinemann. published Der Vorleser
This content downloaded on Fri. 1 Mar 2013 19:19:51 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
.MichaelBerg. Moreover. 1997).and theauthor severalcrimenovels. a timewhenthewitnesses Nazismand theHolocaust the stageand publicfascination withthisperiodis leaving gradually thesetextsmaybe indicative a legacywhosedestructive of growing."1Bornin Germany 1944.Schlink nowa professor law. various takesplace in 1959. an SS guard Auschwitz another in of is cow.
thevictims. poise. 1 Mar 2013 19:19:51 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
. of herhandicap.Herrefusal concede illiteracy. the and to tenced lifeimprisonment spends nexteighteen yearsinjail. atrocity erotipast. films which explore the on of the often focusing the subversive by meanings thepastfor present.Hannais a prematurely sixty-oneaged is whileMichael. hersexualappealis also related and brutal herdark. bothof the scarred forty-year-old. chologically to the and fateof his generation. Followinga belonging Hannaat a trial SS guards of Michaelrecognizes seven-year separation. condition his that leadsto emotional as into paralysis. is in thisdoublesensethat is a victim's victim. a psyprofessionally year-old.blond. charisma. is a viewfrom by that of and members a different from theoutside. Such linksbetween SevenBeauties(1975) and Lilione cismremind of Lina Wertmuller's ana Cavani's The NightPorter (1973).30
as Germany Victim
of moral The core of TheReaderis an inversion conventional roles. never tothevictimizers the belonged we And yet. of his inability emergefrom emoof tionalcul-de-sac his passionforHanna and the knowledge her of he a It crime. categories. in Aboutto be released 1984.as it turns laterin the dependence him as a reader." empty in themidst an uncomprehending of their of respective gees handicaps and uncaring Michael represents Schlink's society. though accomplished. postwar as She makeherappear themainculprit. powerful between to attraction her.Simultaneously. to But of and disdainful sentimentality. place keepsmoving Her is and to shameful effort hidethat disability. sensuality natural uninin The like HannaSchygulla RainerWerner Fassbinder's hibited: just physically strong Marriageof Maria Braun(1978). by twenty At thispoint transpires Hannais beingvictimized her her to German justice. Unlike texts sadism. generation of a group or bystanders. is senand beauty. She is thenforty-three he is it that two. view of postwar a German dead of society: spiritually victim its own
This content downloaded on Fri. emigrants. For he too is a victim. of perversity and of aestheticization violenceand thesexualattraction here written survivors. however.as The Reader unfolds. realizethatbothHanna and he she Michaelare victims. of thehelplessshameof of to the secondgeneration the perpetrators.criminal. is herdesperate from to place in postwar Germany. Bothhe andHannaare"inner refusterile. in and he visitsas a law student 1966.and her Hanna is rootedin his immense physical out on because. he escapesfrom feelings a existence. The she an Hannais illiterate. she is tall. reason both becomes SS guard and novel. link and The Michaeland assumptions.
recallsmaking of he providing intellectual she beingin physical nourishment control. is on and of Hanna as victims predicated excluding view of himself the and confusing social or ideologicalhandihervictims'emotions first WhileHanna'silliteracy makeshera perpecaps and victimhood. in character thenovel. to show herany sincere warmth. encompassing everyone physical. theirJewishness.Hannahangsherhe and readings literary in her selfduring lastnight prison.a site of totalemohe in of numbness themidst which is consumed a tremendous tional by Nazi for sexuallonging a former andlover. he beenin herplace. havingseen himeven once for Not to to years. Schlink's novelis a tale of emotional numbness sexualpassion.
This content downloaded on Fri. Hanna her Michaelis unable justbefore release.Omer Bartov
Whenhe meets crimes. of theonlytwosurhis confirms suspicion vivorsof thecamp in whichHanna"worked. one with Michael'sonlyencounter a realvictim. But as he watchesHanna aftera withthe reality atrocity he cannothelp being arousedby her: as the seven-year separation." Michael's as becameas numb theperpetrators. crimes theSS womenare described.thehandicap theNazis' of was the equivalent a death sentence. of butHanna. Schlink 109-111.Onlynow. notlegalinnocence.he realizes to weresent be gassed.The barrage horof and emotionally "healthy" all at rorsthatnumbs thosepresent thetrialis associated Michael by of itself. the that victims Indeed. of of and trator thena victim postwar justice. and This emotional numbness becomesthe main trademark the trial.Did she readherstories before inmates just they livesandgivethem measure coma of their to takethem herto prolong them from to or fort. he love to her. did she sendthem be gassedto prevent revealing Wouldshehavealso senthimto die had shebeenunable herhandicap? Thus the to leave him whenher secretwas aboutto be uncovered? linkedin his mind:the courtand "then"becomeinextricably "now" roombecomesa replicaof a concentration camp. Jewishness her makesherintoa murderer. by in her that thecampshe also had reading novels.2Her asks thejudgewhatwouldhe havedonehad universal guilt by guiltis thusqualified theclaimof potential specific
2.but havinglearned read and writeby listening eighteen of works records sendsher. victims.who is themostnatural. victims' Hanna's illiteracy of the makesthem target murder. she when naively if her Hannademonstrates moral. 1 Mar 2013 19:19:51 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
from polar a second-generation perspective ago years
3.""it"beingpresumably Holocaust.thosewho. could it be.32 -
as Germany Victim guilt in the subjunctivemode and her helplessnessin the camp
showsheras a victim circumstances. Schlink 113. beyond operations.hearing was numbing aboutHanna'scrime dencein thecourtroom intellectually in and arousing "it. forher:"The worst imperious."In retrospect realizes was so "theimagination almost was" oftheHolocaust. indeed. the tiveguiltof theperpetrators. according Michael. writes. they may but as or at least. Schlink 134."theHolocaust. brings that Germans was askeda few aboutsecond-generation raisea question .Hence his preference think hercrimeas akinto "a car withinjuries and accidenton a lonelyroad on a cold winter night. between believing be of as becauseone cannot guilty betrayalso sees himself "notguilty of loveda criminal. 7.to his mind. no position ascertain identity relavictimize innocent."4 I the same "numbness have triedto describe. 1 Mar 2013 19:19:51 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
." List the imagination and movieslike Schindler's Holocaust "actually evithe movesin it."7 and a criminal. Schlink Schlink 128-29. 8. of and thecourtroom Conversely. whatto do." He resolves to "wereunfair theHannaI had that dilemma asserting his dreams by "how little he observation known and stillknew.
This content downloaded on Fri.like Hanna."6 dutiesthatrequired two equallycompelling between Caught Michael she and Hannainnocent knowing is guilty. Schlink 147-48.8 Hence. Schlink 137. his and rage."5 fateof the victims or evokes in him none of the compassion passion he feels toward to of Hanna.are "guilty. is of witnesses madedubious thefact thestatus theJewish their that by to nor testimony. I wokefrom them oflonging shame and full me Hannaaroused sexually. that there actually fact static:the shattering of the worldof the campsseemedproperly series he the after television its Conversely. Hollywood producseeing sexually. action. notas guilty it one Whereashe identifies of the survivors thatvery by appeared." or as "a conflict and no one knowing totaled vehicles." yetalso "guilty having ing his of But Michael'sawareness Hanna'scrimes onlyincreases passion cruel in a werethedreams which hard. And fullof fearaboutwho I reallywas."was notprecise. 119."3 in to the and Theyare. 6.about Israelis: . 4. with Michaelto madeit comealive. 5.Thisassociation crime tions.
an and thusfrom entire their voygeneration parents were and blind.German while with was infatuated hersexuality. though in Hereit is secondand abstract evokesno emotion thereader. guilt? what purpose?9 to Thus Hanna's question thejudge. of the hadnochoiceindetermining identity their they parents. suffering. in a way. he Michaelsees it as theexpresplace. and illicit. not we the we may wemay inquire because inquire to the to is compare incomparable. of perpetrators. Schlink 104. 1968students Indeed. he choseHanna.Itconverted of we the overcame sufferingwent through And into ofshame energy."whatwouldyou have done?"is we "what should havedone?"with into transformed Michael'squestion." unlike a mygeneration.indeed. their yet painful. madethem their love fortheir drown factthat the irrevocably parents that Hence Michael'sassertion "thepain I in crimes. and To in wefall silent revulsion. no face. "self-righteousness. ifthe inthe instead accepting as something face of them arenot questioned. the activity.their conceded. thatneither the obvious conclusion takes the revolt soonafter Hanna'simprisonment. not of even horrors an the themselves make horrorsobject discussion. in ofwhich canonly silent revulsion.accommodators accepters." he claims. remains the of shamefor perpetrawho Germans arethevictims their generation for for loveto them. and the willfully their because of the shame"by parading their suffering "overcoming "to all thisnoisewas mademerely Yet. ation. the Thisis a novelin which true have and thosewho survived. tors. 170-7 Schlink
This content downloaded on Fri. indeed. and Should we fall shame. suffer their can For forthem." complicit their becauseof mylove forHannawas. guilt. 1. atleast Pointing theguilty onaccount it. our have what should do with it the What of extermination Jews? should ofthe of horrorsthe We knowledgethe notbelieve can comprehend incomprehensible. truesexualpleasure be derived intense only passion
9.thefateof wentthrough of members his generBut other fate. can be answeredsatisfactorily. to guilt a coming grips our from who "dissociated themselves thoseyoungGermans For Schlink. suffering passive deal with parents' took great ofenergy. sionofa senseofcollective guilt: it but did free at parties not us ofshame. Although does notparticipate.l0 whodied those of victims theperiod.Omer Bartov
should generation done. shame." eurs. aggression. 10. 1 Mar 2013 19:19:51 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
Memoirs a Wartime Childhood 11. largely of ofutter themostterrifying inhumanity. is is theguilty.For Schlink.Indeed. Binjamin Wilkomirski. tomake applicability. 1 Mar 2013 19:19:51 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
. 1996).metaphorically. of (New Fragments: as York: RandomHouse. is a German ultimately in the of fate. theJewish de de and Prize. useless. of the toward category vica perpetrator.hopelessness.he cannot comprehend. of moral and tion.lifeless. postwar by Germany thuspolluted The of and without them. Originally (Frankfurt/Main: published Bruchstiicke Jewish Book Award. Perhaps. those are and butthen. everything is numb. judgments universal 11 of memoir a childwhowas bornintothe is Fragments a devastating of the Told from perspective a very Holocaust.ultimately.34
as Germany Victim
else fromthe perpetrators. eventhemurderers sure. byvirtue hisassociation Hannaas thereader. responsibility reject ethical victim seemsto become intoa This latent self-transformation Jewish this The in Wilkomirski's manifest Binjamin Fragments. research to punish the to to Eventheattempt cometo terms it. becoming of a his Schlink contextualizes tale within framework emotional tim. evenas he tilts Yet. both are and numbness sexualobsession. is somewhat the also describes fateof a PaintedBird. him whichprevented from to and thanks the graceof his late birth. Quarterly Literary
This content downloaded on Fri.and thelatter involuntary ity. painof those fate he or and murdered. numbness obsession all and categories. a meansto avoid and are Thus and uncontrollable. rather. Michael becomesthe victim.The bookwontheNational Verlagim Suhrkamp.since. with past. thePrix la M6moire la Shoah.Hannawas reading memoirs Primo that there after suiher and Jean Amery. scandalaround and profound to the book demonstrates extent whichthemass crimes to the our have undermined ability determine of trauma thiscentury between and ficfact to distinguish to of nature truth. they of are It victimize thenextgeneration Germans. most he the his his resembles own. meaningless. Judischer 1995). of Kosinski's The reminiscent Jerzy It and suffering. Levi. comprehensible with of both Jewish victim. hercell. establish identity. young boywhocannot and remember did not knowthe historical events. can understand in so faras their only from perspective. is.it containsonly of on that of thosefragments memory wereinscribed hismind. Reader thecrimes theperpetrators emasculated of of as It to is aboutGermany victim. ofwhich aboveorbelowmoralis is sincetheformer a blankand a void.ButMichael suffering ownpain. be themselves victims. TadeuszBorowski werefound his much is cide. whom Hannaandherlikeshad tortured the as he maytry. is a victim itshistory murder. pain brutality.
"Fakten Erinnerung. in film.1998).12 an In August1998. Wilkomirski and the shattered limitsof identity truth.partIII. of anyremained.chapter Earlier By Alone: TheHolocaustin Literature Words (Chicago:U of ChicagoP. The Lawrence Langer.see also Ganzfried. Rosenfeld."l4 Thereare sevhad Ganzfried. provided adoption life. a tourist.spentthefirst Ganzfried the only camps.James N. Alternatively. for a to believedhimself be that child.Omer Bartov
childduring Holocaust. Absender 1995). beento thecamps"onlyas Wilkoobviousis that for eralpossibleexplanations thiscase. fictitious memoirs. DanielGanzfried. See Kosinski." 14.documentaries. parents. Voicing Void:Muteness Memory Holocaust of in 4.Instead. Holocaustare becoming increasingly Soon there
The 12. SUNY UP. is that it own past. is possible(though unlikely) Wilkomirski for who indeedthatchild.butthatthe Swiss authorities arranged his if and himwitha falseidentity erasedany record. troubling thatWilkoof as embodiment forums thetrue at has mirski spoken numerous public of with Identification the victims genocide. Ganzfried. gegen
This content downloaded on Fri. Holocaust the (NewHaven:Yale UP." makes mention Kosinski." 1998).and came to Switzerland after war. therefore. 35 Weltwoche (27 Aug.thepopular Swiss weeklyWeltwoche published whichaccusedWilkomirski of Daniel Ganzfried. evaluations Kosinski SidraDeKovenEzrahi. Horowitz. Imagination Liton A 5. 1994):46-53. 1 Mar 2013 19:19:51 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
."TheNewYorker Oct. is on other (Bloomington: of no but Corruptions. Finally.: Fiction in and the (Albany.creating himself quitecandidly scholarHolocaust culledfrom worldof memories. 1965). his protagonist. (Zurich: Rotpunktverlag. The most himself a child as in he a mirski wrote workof fiction which imagined is Whatmakesthisespecially in the Holocaust.chapter AlvinHirsch and cases of "Deceptions Indiana erature UP. DoubleDying: Reflections Holocaust 1975). "Die gelieheneHolocaust-Biographie. PaintedBird (New York:Houghton ParkSloan. article thewriter by out air. his having of and of Holocaustsurvivors theauthor a novelon thevictims'secclaimthathe was bornto a Wilkomirski's ond generation. hisprevious of memories the We are now at a pointin timewhereunmediated will be no one rare."Kosinski's War. 1997). Der 13. and Literary L. in 1947 as Bruno and registered 1945 by a Swiss family officially wrote after nameof his adoptive the Doessekker Wilkomirski. Jerzy Mifflin.Y. also becauseKosinski was accused the but too a of as ofhaving presentedwork fiction autobiography. ship. whichhe lives as if it werehis fiction.13 rejected in Jewish yearsof his lifein the family Riga in 1939. (10 also.SaraR. 36 Weltwoche (3 Sept. 1980) 152-58. 1980). was Wilkomirski bornin Switzerland that evidence indicating provided in was adopted son in 1941 as theillegitimate of a Protestant woman. himself child the invented identity ofthin Ganzfried.
1998. must and abuses of the Holocaustin the late twentieth-century's for quest To fame.17 high
the 15."Einfast Schmerz.even fortune. 1995).originally published The Marek ahavah(Tel Aviv:Keter. insist itssuccesswas solelytheresult in for claims. Writing BookofEsther as Gallimard. Ruth negative Kltiger.DavidGrossman. alsoseems dubious assertion. questions the of if tionsmayappearfacile. Raczymow. Schlink wouldhaveaddedit to memoirs: berof thecanonof Holocaust there another for in cell Hanna'sbookshelf herprison had she remained that the are decade. of fact of the between turns thisaffair bespeak difficulty distinguishing Whilearguments the and and fiction. tion:Umschlagplatz 1994).I first thebookonr recommendaplausibel. Literacki.within fewyears. I. of Yet case their as children survivors.
This content downloaded on Fri. regarding tenuous reality fantasy. all of and tionand memoirs. See. Alongside by spate to senseofurgency abouttheneedto transsurvivors testifyingtheir of to mitrecollections their experiences posterity we are also witnumber worksby writers the second of of nessingan increasing into the Holocaust. to Some Thereare various a workof fiction? from start. and of are nature suchdistinctions partand parcelof modemliterature such asserin of representation. a this of them a particularly quality. recognition. 30 read the Zeitung Sept. Love (New York: Farrar." History Memory (1998): 5-42.36
as Germany Victim
as old the to whohad experienced Holocaust a person enough have left of a recent of memoirs distinct memories theevent. be sure. See Under 1989).Foranother judgment. erekh Rymkiewicz." Zeit39 (1 Sept.originally published Uncrisansvoix(Paris: as and Straus Giroux.15 Wilkomirski's is fate recount raisealarmsignalsas to theuses indeed and farmoredisturbing.Lau.See nowespecially (Paris:Instytut Umschlagplatz in Holocaust LiteraPresence Recent and Belated Witness: Vicarious Memory Authorial 10 & ture.originally (New York:Farrar.the case of the Holocaust.1998). itsautobiographical However. considering extremity for itraises humanity. ist see aesthetic "Kitsch immer Jan. Final Sta1986). moral and profound theevent the questions a mema become prominent book Wilkomirski's has.Jaroslaw Ayen as & Straus Giroux.1998). Die 16. notpernicious. CitedbyJ. 1 Mar 2013 19:19:51 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
.the twistsand identity. the sincethe that weresuspicious have historians argued they the But factual errors. viewofthemarket bothficnot on films documentaries theHolocaust. 1985).16 howcouldone expect authentic bookcontained the Others have criticized accurate? of memoir a childto be wholly of that and book'sliterary quality. 1988).What we todo nowwith realization itmayhavebeen reactions thisrevelation. for Andr6 (19 example. Henri (New York:Holmes& Meier." Siiddeutsche of tion Saul Friedldinder. published "The Froma Zeitlin. perfekter in Aciman's enthusiastic review TheNewRepublic 17.or who eitherimaginethemselves generation.
This content downloaded on Fri. morally
"Die Aff~ire see of discussions this scandal."La memoire Germany's Nightmare Le Wilkomirski.1998. identity. givenby a of that We might haveused it evenhad we thought to be ficit child. Wilkomirski/Bruno Doessekker. of who imagbe found.N.indeed.thephenomenon a writer truth may roleof. This is of textsas testimony future accepting the have considering factthatHolocaustdeniers especiallyimportant Holocaustmemseized on thisscandalto arguethatall other already In writers' of oirsare also merefigments their imagination." umBinjamin Frankfurter 30 Berliner Tell SS-Mann wurde. danger presenting the fact whopresent as fiction. sincetheRomantic as withsuch cases. defined into him. then wouldhaveobviously presented in a verydifferent the and Bothscholars. in institutions as Ganzfried out. thisalso imply history? and the notlead us downtheperilous pathof dehistoricizing Holocaust malevent intoan increasingly a it from concrete transforming thereby the Is leablemyth? thisnotthesurest ofultimately detaching Holoway it into and morality making disappear human caustfrom by experience If and ineffability?at times themistsof mythology. Weill.18 young we but it tion. mizesthose is the Can we say that Holocaust a case in whichtherulesof reprein which whatis allowed. are After theannalsof literature filled all creative all. sentation differently. perimagining period.and claimed to have been a vicinto ines himself the publicly we fills timof theHolocaust. must. powers themore. rightly points be morecareful the whichmay be fiction. The role of theartist."In Of TheseMen Have BecomePotent A Country Symbols Up Waking to A New Future. was never there. entirely operate in should forbidden? be for taken granted recent has beenalmost times. 1998. thecase of fiction factis thatit legitias of theHolocaust. Forsomeother 10 Rundschau Sept. InesHartwig. incomprehension. and aboutthemselves whoclaimtobe writing we feelbetrayed those by their we often admire are thenshownto have written "only"fiction."Wie Wilhelm zu einem Zeitung Sept. us with outrage: feel yet mocked and our disarmed. an that even higher since it is there and urgeforimagination fantasy. sensibilities compassion cheated.M.herself another another or entails life.1998. and Our questfortruth factsis matched our another by son. media." Ebel.and other professional educational light. heikle 18. sus30 Past. 1 Mar 2013 19:19:51 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
." Monde23 Oct. And yet.1998. Many have cited text Wilkomirski's as the purest form testimony. of the iftheHolocaust placedbeyond rulesandconventions repis And Wouldthis thatit is beyond does resentation."TheIndependent Sept.Omer Bartov
Scholarsare faced now witha painful dilemma.
Journey The "Buried York:Random Homeland.83-84:"I . fiction those and fiction those just by by Andthere is between and authentic assumed as we distinguish identity. (New 1992).ButBorowski the and it was not.See also Appelfeld. nottrue or we whobytheir but prevaricationsabilminority: arethose exiguous also an anomalous bottom. us and writer thatwas read as factabouttheHolocaust.butwouldhavecontinued growfat of as from suffering others hisKapo does in thecamp. Wilkomirski. yet
ThisWay theGas. also a survivor. grew of it the he had written from perspective thesaved. Ladies and Gentlemen 19. 1988).. 1992). the latter.
Wilkomirski not the only one to have is
This content downloaded on Fri. We survivors notonlyan must we. in Levi wrote his last For distinction. aretheexception.Theyaretherule.AronAppelfeld. Ida Fink. nota fewother whowerenot.' subhavenotreturned tellabout orhavereturned butthey the to it mute.38
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For there a difference is our and violated. repeat: thesurvivors. theformer aboutthesuffering a literary case." New Yorker House. thus only witnesses. of since he in Auschwitz. Thosewhodid so. (23 Nov. the the wouldhavea general witnesses.. bookhasall themarks a memoir. (New York: for 1967). complete significance. and the true whowere. between pain uponreading of human and aboutthesuffering another being.The Fateless(Evanston: 20.TheDrowned theSaved(NewYork:Summit.19 he been that Kapo. ourpainuponreading In of character. Tadeusz Borowski. 1 Mar 2013 19:19:51 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
. TadeuszBorowski. Katerina and Straus Giroux. (New York:Farrar. the tales cynical Kapo whonarrates horrifying of in Had Auschwitz thefirst person. Hence a lying cheats ofourfeelings abusesoursorrow.Aron between and writers. See ImreKertesz. UP.21 all. presence absence. thosewhosaw theGorgon.Hence the was in Auschwitz. also wrote fiction. as Primo an evenmoredisturbing of to a he striven provide truthful report life although hadalways essays.20 we distinguish But Appelfeld. LouisBegley. and 21. ultimately suspicious his own account.is claimed. withhis creatures. Primo Levi. place He was notthebrutal. oneswhosedeposition merged. are are witnesses. 1998):48-61." we 22. Wartime (NewYork:Knopf.we empain thizewiththe writer.22 for as a precondition survival during latingidentity of and the Whilehe calls ita novel. or or is notmerely fiction truth. the and Lies Louis Begley'sWartime is aboutfalsifying truth dissimuthe Holocaust. itiesor good luckdid nottouch the are 'Muslims. he wouldnot to havecommitted suicidein 1951. Northwestern 1992). Finkis but Ida point are even if obviously influand yetherstories fiction. after themajority. whose in thecanonof Holocaust is memoirs assured. Penguin. Lies 1991). whowerethere. is the case of Imre Kert6sz.notof thedrowned. As enced by her experience.
ing the Andwithout accounts. of and themeaning our aboutourselves. to transmit us cannot distant.He has to pickoneofseveral identities holdon to and possible survival. annihilatory ofmodem castsdoubton theverydefiniIt and lenting. whilewe insist we ourselves sharofdirect on thetruthfulness witnesses. issue is notwhether we Whilewe agreethat Holocaust unimaginable.the ing. cannot imagine muchas we cannot withthem. come from.by way of perpetrating. is of the This is to say that Holocaust at thecenter a crisisof identity and its boundaries whoseramifications farbeyond chronological range This becomethe of thelife-span itssurvivors. beinga target . whereyou of whatyou are capableor incapable doing. disturbing. that and the rebelagainst thought it has beenimagined. are afraid whatwe maydiscover. past whilewe seek thetruth for We of we ouridentity. was Wilkomirski thatchild. Fromthis to it after war. urgency of and observing.But the thouI do not knowwhether are who without sandsof"children identity" cameoutof theHolocaust had in itself of manifestationa period which most extreme the humanity with was lostits identity just likethosechildren. their Hence.and it is a colevents their of thiscentury's implications For for lectivecrisisforthoseaware of our responsibility humanity.makeit his ownin order survive the wrotea memoir or the Wilkomirski perspective."as he writes. on whowouldreflect the crisis those for It is a very personal imagining. his throughout an can recover thewar in Polandunder assumed his identity. 154. withfalsepaperstoo. child. originating World It is thecrisisof encounterwith evengreater I and felt today. we turn stone.Omer Bartov
be it cannot that becauseit deniesthevery of precisely possibility truth The whoalongwith auntsurvives andauthenticity. for ownlives. unreviolence: force massive. we are horrified their they empathy. crisishas in many ways War in of feature thetwentieth characteristic century.23 namesand often Begleyconlines: Maciekwith following the the cludeshisnovelabout child
23. "furnished false and. andyet threatening destabilizing.and remains foreign. whatit meansto knowwho you are. search the but in existence an age ofmassmurder. all-encompassing. no longer ownself. empathize experiences. is a crisisthat on tionof identity. experiencing. faceless. Wilkomirski
This content downloaded on Fri. we haveto inner coreofhuman into lest the our turn gaze awayfrom spectacle. truth by a becomeourown. presence. 1 Mar 2013 19:19:51 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
. is the "mere"fiction.
No: was has that andourman nochildhood hecanbear remember. woulddo better heed Levi's measured terrifying yet .had thepotential construct infinite an in short of to enormity pain. "those who saw theGorgon.has to he hadtoinvent one.40
as Germany Victim And where Maciek is now? became embarrassment He an andslowly A whobears ofthenames one died. there much Maciek that of man? Maciek a child. 26. Levi 83-84."25 tellaboutitor havereturned to Perhaps.
24. pain is theonlyforce not not without effort. Levi wrote. Levi 86. species. we arewilling face we to the truth. truth atrocities beyond accounts itssurvivors. was irrevocable. is enough tosee. havenotreturned as Primo to if mute. 1 Mar 2013 19:19:51 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
.we.nottolisten. wouldprove it that thehuman man.24
lies of of the the Perhaps. Neveragain conclusion "whathad happened . 25. .
This content downloaded on Fri. that coulditbe cleansed. . toact. man Maciek usedhasreplaced in Is him. cost from without and and that created nothing.