Fresh Wounds: Early Narratives of Holocaust Survival

Fresh Wounds: Early Narratives of Holocaust Survival

by Donald L. Niewyk (Editor)


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Every student of the Holocaust knows the crucial importance of survivors' testimonies in reconstructing the crime. Most such accounts, however, were recorded years or even decades after the end of World War II. The survivor narratives that make up this volume, in contrast, were gathered immediately after the war. In 1946, Russian-born American psychologist David P. Boder interviewed 109 victims of Nazi persecution—the majority of them Jews—in "Displaced Persons" camps across Europe. The thirty-six accounts collected here possess an immediacy and authenticity that might otherwise be questioned in memoirs penned long after the events they detail.

These interviews encompass survivors from Poland, Lithuania, Germany, France, Slovakia, and Hungary, ranging in age from their early teens to their seventies. Their remarkable stories shed light on such controversial subjects as relations between Jews and neighbors or strangers who extended or withheld aid, opportunities for and obstacles to Jewish resistance, the victims' knowledge—or lack of knowledge—about the fate that awaited them in Nazi hands, survival strategies, women's experience of the Holocaust, the Nazi practice of placing prisoners in charge of their fellow inmates, and the liberators' postwar treatment of freed concentration camp inmates.

In an introduction, Donald Niewyk describes this extraordinary interviewing project and traces the overwhelming obstacles Boder faced in finding an audience for the survivor narratives he collected.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780807872406
Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press
Publication date: 09/06/2011
Edition description: 1
Pages: 432
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.20(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

Donald L. Niewyk is professor of history at Southern Methodist University. His books include The Holocaust: Problems and Perspectives of Interpretation and The Jews in Weimar Germany.

Table of Contents


A Note on Editorial Methods

Part I. Poland
1. Abraham K.
2. Udel S.
3. Fela N.
4. Bernard W.
5. Sigmund R.
6. Kalman E.
7. Nechama E.
8. Jurek K.
9. Hadassah M.
10. Benjamin P.
11. Rachel G.
12. Lena K.
13. Lena K.'s Children
Nathan S.
Edith Z.
Raisel M.
14. Israel U.
15. Julian W.
16. Mendel H.
17. Pinkus R.
18. Anna K.
19. Roma T.
20. Rabbi Solomon H.
21. Isaac W.

Part II. Lithuania
22. Ephraim G.

Part III. Germany
23. Jürgen B.
24. Hildegard F.
25. Friedrich S.
26. David M.
27. Jacob M.

Part IV. France
28. Edith S.
29. Nelly B.
30. Fania F.

Part V. Slovakia
31. Baruch F.
32. Helena T.

Part VI. Hungary
33. George K.
34. Adolph H.

Glossary of Terms
Glossary of Ghettos and Camps
Selected Bibliography

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

There is an extraordinary power to these narratives, which are at times shattering. Unlike the many memoirs that have been written since the war, these accounts have a penetrating power, most likely because of their oral recounting and the freshness of the experiences described.—Studies in Contemporary Jewry

As the title suggests, these narratives are 'fresh' and the acute trauma, pain and anger of the survivors, palpable. It is a book that starkly presents the horrors of war at a micro and individual level and paints a horrific picture of the human capacity for evil. . . . This volume is a rich resource for multi-disciplinary research into the dynamics of conflict.—Ethnic Conflict Research Digest

Fresh Wounds reveals the victims' devastating experiences of pain, loss, and humiliation with compelling authenticity.—Booklist

Provides stark and immediate testimony of the daily life of Jews under the Holocaust, uninfluenced by what Primo Levi recognized as the 'ever more blurred and stylized memories' of survivors who sought to recall the terrible events years or decades later.—AB Bookman's Weekly

Powerful and compelling. Niewyk provides background information and context for these narratives and thus enables the reader to have a coherent narrative of persecution and survival during the Holocaust.—Sybil Milton, former Senior Historian, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

Provides an important link in the chain of Holocaust documentation. . . . Raises provocative questions about the way in which we process memories and changes in perspective as we achieve distance from trauma.—Hadassah Magazine

In this truly remarkable work, Donald Niewyk brings to light, fifty years after they were first recorded, the immediate, intense recollections of Holocaust survivors set down in 1945 and 1946 in interviews with the American psychologist David P. Boder—the original, forgotten scholar dedicated to codifying survivor memory for the benefit of history. These Boder interviews are the earliest known attempt by a qualified academic to record systematically the experiences of Jewish survivors. The story of how they were discovered and became a manuscript is a saga as compelling as the information they contain, which confirms with the authenticity of immediacy so much of what we have learned in the half-century since they were recorded. This is an original and substantial addition to the historical literature of the Holocaust.—Charles W. Sydnor Jr., author of Soldiers of Destruction: The SS Death's Head Division, 1933-1945

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