Dramatic narratives and the holocaust
This thesis analyses dramatic and historical narratives about the Holocaust. Primarily, it focuses on Israeli, German and Austrian writers from the time of the Final solution (1941) to the mid 1990s. In particular, I will highlight how the 'trauma' of the Holocaust has influenced collective identity in these countries and how writers have either affirmed or deconstructed narratives of history and identity which have emerged since World War Two. To understand fully the various narratives which have developed, it is important to refer to the artistic achievements both of the victims of National Socialism and the survivors whose accounts are often at variance with narratives typical of Israeli and German writers. Chapter One, therefore, is a detailed account of how those who were experiencing Nazism first hand interpreted their situation in contrast to how those in exile or in Palestine emplotted the atrocity stories from Europe. The rest of the thesis charts how narratives of the Holocaust are subtly re-figured according to political Zeitgeist - what Walter Benjamin called Jetztzeit, the blasting of history out of its continuum to service contemporary political needs. This thesis aims to show that narratives and representations of the Holocaust both in Israel, Germany and Austria mutate according to contemporary events. Today, whilst it is generally agreed that there is no such thing as an objective, concrete past, and that historic events are called upon to help interpret current complexities, the Holocaust in Israel and the Germanies has been consciously deployed to shape interpretations of present considerations by revisionism. This has caused consternation among many in the Jewish community who assert that, as the Holocaust is a unique event, to use it for analogous discussion denigrates the memory of the victims. Others maintain that the Holocaust is but one example of human depravity and holds many lessons for the contemporary world. This thesis asks whether the Holocaust can be viewed simultaneously both as a typical and an atypical event without denigrating the victims or generating simplistic analogies.