By Jenni Adams, Sue Vice
The vast majority of books on Holocaust literature and movie concentrate on its sufferers or survivors. The essays during this assortment, by means of validated lecturers in addition to more moderen voices, take the more odd approach to reading representations of the Holocaust perpetrators. In doing so, they discover what has earlier held critics again from this subject, together with ethical and emotional distaste, the hazards of complicated knowing with exculpation, and the opportunity of complex id. Acknowledging and relocating past those matters, the participants strengthen as an alternative more than a few leading edge methods and conclusions, emphasizing the moral and aesthetic demanding situations of representing evil and the ways that those are negotiated by means of writers, filmmakers, and others. The ethics of such illustration are explored through a chain of instances stories, examining, for example, how the Nazis and Nazism are proven in: German museums; in fiction, equivalent to Jonathan Littell's The Kindly Ones and Muriel Spark's The Mandelbaum Gate; in motion pictures, together with Downfall and Shoah; in ghetto diaries; and within the work of Francis Bacon.
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Additional resources for Representing Perpetrators in Holocaust Literature and Film
The philosopher Richard Bernstein writes, Even when we think we have abandoned the search for essences, there is something uncanny about the way in which this desire and need express themselves in devious ways. This is especially evident in the discourse about evil. 18 AVOIDING EVIL IN PERPETRATOR FICTION 23 An explanation is a form, a very strong form, of closure. I have already cited Arendt’s letter to Scholem on evil, in which she writes that it is indeed my opinion now that evil is never ‘radical’, that it is only extreme, and that it possesses neither depth nor any demonic dimension.
Further uncertainty surrounds the detectives, Clemens and Weser, who take the role of the Furies in the novel, pursuing Aue relentlessly and beyond the bounds of plausibility in order to confront him with his matricidal guilt. This reaches its peak in the detectives’ pursuit of Aue long after the case against him has been closed, in the U-Bahn tunnels beneath Berlin as allied forces enter the city. While the narrator expresses no comment on this, the disparity of such events 38 REPRESENTING PERPETRATORS IN HOLOCAUST LITERATURE AND FILM within what is for the most part a meticulously researched and historically realist text invites a consideration of these characters as externalisations of Aue’s conscience.
On these issues, see Razinsky, ‘Not the Witness We Wished For’, 180. Ezrahi, ‘Acts of Impersonation’, 19. Van Alphen, ‘Playing the Holocaust’, 82. Also evoked is Wayne Booth’s suggestion that ‘[p]owerful narratives provide our best criticism of other powerful narratives, our best antidote against any one thoughtlessly adopted role’ – Booth, The Company We Keep, 282. On this point, see also Sanyal, ‘Reading Nazi Memory’, 49, 53. Eaglestone, The Holocaust and the Postmodern, 24. , 29. Helene’s name in this respect signifies in marked contrast to Una’s, whose name reinforces Max’s problematic desire for a narcissistic unity between them.
Representing Perpetrators in Holocaust Literature and Film by Jenni Adams, Sue Vice