Holocaust Memories And Other Poems


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This reference provides text, photographs, charts, maps, and extensive indexes. Back to Results New Search. Holocaust memories and other poems : by Anna Geslewitz. Format Book. Locale Arizona Scottsdale. Language English. External Link Electronic version s of c. Hosted by Internet Archive. Mahon seems conscious here that any writer who attempts to bear witness to the Holocaust does so with the acute awareness that the true witnesses are those who did not survive, but went to the gas chambers. Undressed themselves, I learned at last how to think.


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The witness usually testifies in the name of justice and truth and as such his or her speech draws consistency and fullness. Yet here the value of testimony lies essentially in what it lacks; at its centre it contains something that cannot be borne witness to and that discharges the survivors of authority. The survivors speak in their stead, by proxy, as pseudo-witnesses; they bear witness to a missing testimony. And yet to speak here of a proxy makes no sense; the drowned have nothing to say, nor do they have instructions or memories to be transmitted … Whoever assumes the charge of bearing witness in their name knows that he or she must bear witness in the name of the impossibility of bearing witness Agamben As we have seen, early Holocaust poets were haunted by a crippling sense of the disablement of language.

These are not, we should be clear, triumphant reconstructions of lost voices; both poems are aware of the vacuum they must find voice from. It is the expert negotiation of this aporetic situation which lends the poems considerable force and power.

"After the End of the World": Poetry and the Holocaust

This approach runs the danger of reproducing banal sentiments about the disaster as well as some well-known facts about the death camps without producing any real aesthetic response. After disinfection, broken oversized shoes, Berets, blue stripes and the shaven head, A large yellow Star of David for the Jews, For criminals green triangles, politicos red.

Elaborate madhouse of rules and signs of caste Beatings. Here no futures or no past. Maybe the sap and cunning for another day. A ladle of watery soup traded on the sly, A broom filched, a shoe-patch, rations of bread. Each for himself. Father steals from son.

Parched but denied an icicle Levi asks why? There is nothing here that cannot be learned from historical books about the concentration camps, or from the writings of survivors themselves, and such debatable artistry as the above poem exhibits does not add anything to our perception or understanding of the Holocaust or indeed to the Irish contribution to that understanding.

If there are certain aesthetic boundaries which poets should adhere to, then writing well-turned sonnets about Auschwitz is surely something which must be discouraged. We have suggested that recent Irish poetry with Holocaust themes adopts an international approach, an opening-out from the narrow matter of Ireland. Butler is a paradoxical figure.

Holocaust Testimony and Holocaust Memory

In an age of professional scholarship, he has defended the role of the amateur historian, especially the local historian. In order to escape from the anthill of second-hand experience, Butler suggests that we must value local concerns and our local environment as a premise for engagement with the wider world. However, Butler is also an astute and clear-eyed historian and a very well-informed commentator on European events in regions not often surveyed by Irish scholars.

Butler may be an important presence behind some of the writers considered here albeit someone whose influence in hard to trace because of the sporadic publication of his work up to What Agee identifies in Butler is his acute historical sense of the psychology of someone Archbishop Stepinac who does great evil by tacit collusion with authorities while maintaining the aura of sanctity befitting to his position:. Butler does not simply lay charges at the door of the Archbishop. With the forensic eye for inner detail that characterizes all his writing on personality, he is interested in something more important, more exemplary of a social process, than simple moral condemnation.

Butler avoids any sense of anathematizing the character of Stepinac, whose courage, piety and personal kindliness he emphasizes. Moreover, there is no suggestion that the Monsignor belongs to the same moral universe as actual war criminals like Pavelitch, Artukovitch and Eichmann. In a period of Alice-in-Wonderland values, institutional order itself, in a sense, is the problem.

Translating the Poetry of the Holocaust

In bureaucratic cases like Eichmann and Artukovitch, who were dutiful cogs in the momentum of the state, the role of the Organization Man is now well-understood. In the moral vacuum of wartime Europe, astonishing crimes occurred in the most routine way. It was composite villainy, and when you try to break it down, there are no villains, just functionaries … Butler But key to his arguments is the idea of the local and specific versus the international and diffuse. For Butler, the Holocaust is made possible by the mechanics of industrial society in the hands of criminal ideologues in which the chain of responsibility makes everyone and no-one culpable..

Local knowledge and identity can, in certain circumstances, act against the facelessness of evil, according to Butler.

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Indeed, one might suggest that the instantaneity of communication networks and the ease with which information can flow, could work as a bulwark against future oppression since it is very hard, nowadays, for tyranny and murder to exist without general knowledge circulating. Indeed, the fate of the children of Drancy was unknown to the inhabitants of Paris in ; only from did news of the Nazi extermination policy circulate as unconfirmed rumour in Europe, although clearly most people who wished to consider the matter were aware of the extreme cruelty of what was being undertaken in Paris.

This approach is suggested by the poet George Szirtes whose own family emigrated from Hungary to Britain in the s and whose poetry is deeply concerned with the historical legacy of the Holocaust.

In an essay about his return to Budapest in the s to reclaim his dual identity as an Anglo-Hungarian writer, Szirtes eloquently advocates a post-Nationalist, post-ethnic world and speaks of his own sense of belonging and not-belonging in his adopted country, England:. Sometimes I feel as free as a bird. Sometimes I think I am a herald of the world to come, and that we are beginning to see the end of national states, watching instead waves of people and fragmentary cultures swirling around in an economically determined amplitude that stretches over specific areas of the earth.

Being without a home does not have to mean being without history or without human passions. I am all too full of both, I fear Szirtes It may well be that by sharing cultural, as well as political and economic sovereignty, European nations can avoid or minimise the dangers of future ethnic conflict and genocide. Recent conflicts in the Balkans show that nationalism remains a real and present danger even in our post-Holocaust world. For Irish poets, the benefits of both local and international perspectives are obvious and we have seen how twentieth-century Irish poets are aware of these crossovers and connections between the local and international.

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Agamben, Giorgio. Remnants of Auschwitz: The Witness and the Archive , trans. Daniel Heller-Roazen. New York: Zone Books. Agee, Chris. Unfinished Ireland: Essays on Hubert Butler , ed. Chris Agee.

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Beckett, Samuel. Collected Poems London: John Calder.


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Race in Modern Irish Literature and Culture. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press. Amsterdam: Rijksmuseum. Butler, Hubert. The Children of Drancy. Dublin: The Lilliput Press. Independent Spirit: Essays. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux. Clifton, Harry. The Dublin Review , Secular Eden: Paris Notebooks Crotty, Patrick, ed.

Modern Irish Poetry: An Anthology. Belfast: Blackstaff Press. Durcan, Paul. London: Harvill. Foster, R.

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Holocaust Memories And Other Poems Holocaust Memories And Other Poems
Holocaust Memories And Other Poems Holocaust Memories And Other Poems
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