Download Anglo-Jewish Women Writing the Holocaust: Displaced by Phyllis Lassner (auth.) PDF

By Phyllis Lassner (auth.)

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Despite the best intentions of counselors and staff, the cottages besieged by the intensely cold winds coming off ‘the flat black ocean’ that winter of 1938–39 seemed to be signs of everything alien and forbidding (Segal, Houses 36). Once the selection process began, the Kinder had to confront a cacophony of visual and linguistic signs that made it impossible to identify potential foster parents as safe and therefore as representing a safe haven. As Miriam Darvas recalls, This then was England where my mother believed me to be safe, but I did not feel safe.

Memories of a safe home and nurturing mother translate into images of a prison and child devourer. 13 With this reversal of folklore into testimony, it’s no wonder that Lore Segal quotes the concluding lines of the nursery rhyme and game, ‘Ring around ‘o rosies’, to invoke the fate of her extended family: ‘the baby, the cradle, the bough, the whole tree comes down, and the mommy and daddy, the grandparents, and all the aunts and cousins, they all fall down. Ashes! ’ (‘Bough’ 231). In light of the horrific fates of most families left behind, the nursery rhyme can be read as transforming idyllic childhood memories into the bitter ashes that represent the fates of so many parents and siblings.

That is not what I meant, at all,’ and so I added several sunsets. (‘Bough’ 242) Despite their experiential distance from the actual Holocaust, the Kinder’s writing of displacement and adaptation adds a significant dimension to analyses of Holocaust representation and reception. As many have testified, the invitation to attend a fifty-year reunion reignited memories and feelings that for many had lain dormant in efforts to avoid the pain of profound loss and the frustrations of adaptation in order to build their lives anew.

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