In this book, Camila Loew analyzes four women’s testimonial literary writings on the Holocaust to examine and question some of the tenets of the fields of Holocaust studies, gender studies, and testimony. Through a close reading of the works of Charlotte Delbo, Margarete Buber-Neumann, Ruth Klüger, and Marguerite Duras, Loew foregrounds these authors’ search for a written form to engage with their experiences of the extreme. Although each chapter contains its individual focus and features, the book possesses a unity in intention, concerns, and consequences. In the theoretical introduction that unites the four chapters, Loew eschews essentialism and revises the emergence of the field of Women and Holocaust studies from the early 1980s on, and signals some of its shortcomings. In response, and in accordance with a recent turn in various disciplines of the Humanities, Loew highlights the ethical dimension of testimony and its responsible commitment to the other. In dealing with the texts as literary testimonies—a complex genre, between literature and history—, testimony is freed from the obligation to respond to the requirements of factual truth, and becomes a privileged form to voice the traumatic event, and to symbolically explore the role of excess.
Life Stories of Lithuanian Women, 1945 – 1970
For millions of people, the Soviet experience meant not only living through the torment of Stalinism and the GULAG, the unbelievable destiny of men and women during the 1917 Revolution, civil war, and the Second World War, or those breathtaking, gigantic Socialist construction projects. Many citizens of the former Soviet Union lived “ordinary lives in ordinary times”, where the fate of men and women depended not on armed coercion, but Soviet ideology and propaganda. Adopting and Remembering Soviet Reality contains the stories of ten women, talking about their lives in Soviet Lithuania, one of the annexed Baltic republics. The book gives a compelling account of how, in the last years of Stalin’s rule, after 1945, during the so-called “Khrushchev Thaw”, and in the beginning of the “Stagnation Era”, Soviet ideology transfused the everyday life of women and dictated just about every major aspect of their lives. Based on interviews, the journalistic press of that era, as well as other material, the book reveals how propaganda shaped women’s understanding of family and work responsibilities, child care, interpersonal relationships, romantic love, and friendship.