In the second of a series of podcasts about music in the Holocaust, Ian Biddle explores testimony and asks whether music can ever function like testimony.
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[From Mosaic magazine]
Arrested in 1949 on charges of “anti-Soviet crimes,” the great Yiddish author Dovid Bergelson was sentenced to death and executed by firing squad in 1952. Bergelson had fled the Soviet Union in 1921 for exile in Berlin, but in 1926 began to take a more pro-Soviet stance, arguing that the USSR was the best place for Yiddish culture to flourish, and he moved to Moscow in 1934.
Dara Horn writes:
[In the 1920s], Stalin’s effort to brainwash ethnic minorities involved the Soviet government’s financing of Yiddish-language schools, newspapers, theaters, and publishers, to the extent that there were even Yiddish literary critics who were salaried by the Soviet government. During World War II, Stalin used these loyal Jews to his advantage by creating a “Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee,” a group of Jewish celebrities, including Bergelson, tasked with drumming up money and support from American Jews for the Soviet war…
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דער קאָמיקער זינגט אַ רירנדיקן נוסח פֿון „אַ חזנדל אויף שבת‟.
דער גרויסער ייִדישער שרײַבער דערקלערט פֿאַר וואָס ער האַלט אַז די ייִדישע ליטעראַטור איז געווען אַ המשך פֿון דער תּורה און גמרא.
[From The Guardian]
In the middle of a novel published in the Soviet Union in 1981, two young people are exchanging opinions about Russian poetry. After several names have come up, one asks the other, “And how about Yevtushenko?”, to which he gets the reply: “That’s another stage that’s already past.” An unremarkable exchange, of course, save that the novel (Wild Berries) was by the poet Yevgeny Yevtushenko himself.
It indicates several things about Yevtushenko, who has died aged 84: his unquenchable self-regard, his ability to laugh at himself, his appreciation of the vagaries of fame. It also reminds us that there was a brief stage when the development of Russian literature seemed almost synonymous with his name.
Notoriety of a political sort first came Yevtushenko’s way in 1956, with the publication of his narrative poem Zima Junction, which encountered heavy criticism. The poem had no anti-Soviet message, but…
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Interesting piece about Stalin’s Jewish Oblast experiment
A Promised Land in the U.S.S.R. Masha Gessen’s book about a failed Soviet experiment asks searching questions about Jewish identity.
[From the New Republic]
The twentieth century did not bring an end to Jewish wandering. I’m a case in point: All four of my grandparents, originally from Poland, survived the Holocaust and made their way to Israel. There my parents were born. But the socialist ethos of Israel in its early years did not sit well with my paternal grandfather, and he did not feel safe there. He had seen the destruction of the Warsaw Ghetto and the gas chambers of Majdanek. And having sent two of his sons to the Israeli army, he was not eager to send another two. His attachment to a Jewish state was strong, but his survival instinct was stronger. My grandfather continued to wander, looking for the safest place for his family to…
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This is fascinating to me: the adjective “Polish” when attached to “death camps” appears to be something Poles object to. It raises interesting questions about the processes through which national identities are played out, named, claimed, especially in the context of these appalling atrocities.
[From The Guardian]
The Polish government has approved a new bill that foresees prison terms of up to three years for anyone who uses phrases like “Polish death camps” to refer to Auschwitz and other camps that Nazi Germany operated in occupied Poland during the second world war.
The justice department said the prime minister Beata Szydło’s cabinet approved the legislation on Tuesday. It is expected to pass easily in the parliament, where the nationalistic ruling party Law and Justice enjoys a majority.
The bill aims to deal with a problem the Polish government has faced for years: foreign media outlets referring to the Nazi camps as Polish.
Poles fear that as the war grows more distant younger generations will incorrectly assume that Poles had a role in the death camps.
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Exhibition Focus: Finding Treblinka with Dr Caroline Sturdy Colls and Michael Branthwaite (Exhibition talk, guided tour)
worth attending if you are in London next week
On 19th July 2016, 6:00-8:00pm, The Wiener Library’s new exhibition Finding Treblinka explores the Nazi labour and extermination camps of Treblinka using the ground-breaking research of archaeologist Dr Caroline Sturdy Colls and artistic responses to the topic curated with lead artist Michael Branthwaite, both of Staffordshire University. At this event, Dr Caroline Sturdy Colls will talk about the history and archaeology of Treblinka, a Nazi labour and extermination camp where between 800,000 and 1 million Jews, Poles and Roma from across Europe were killed during the Holocaust. The very few survivors and the almost total destruction of the camp by the Nazis have left a scant historical record, making Sturdy Colls’ non-invasive archaeological methods particularly appropriate for the study of the Treblinka. The talk will be followed by a tour by the curator Michael Branthwaite of specially commissioned artworks that respond to Sturdy Colls’ work and to the subject of…
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For anyone in London on this date. worth attending
On Thursday 8th September, 2016, 6:30-8:00pm, a lecture will be given at the Wiener Library by eminent composer and scholar Professor Adam Gorb of the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester on the subject of the music scene at Theresienstadt concentration camp. The work of composers such as Viktor Ullmann, Hans Krasa, Gideon Klein and Pavel Haas will be considered. An original copy of the libretto (by Peter Kien) of Viktor Ullmann’s opera composed in Theresienstadt, The Emperor of Atlantis, is held in the library’s collections.
Venue of event: The Wiener Library for the Study of the Holocaust and Genocide, 29 Russell Square, London, WC1B 5DP
Website Address: http://www.wienerlibrary.co.uk/Whats-On?item=267
Contact email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Translating the Iceberg: Reflections on the Possibilities of In geveb’s Texts & Translations Section by Madeleine Cohen
[from In geveb]
The very first seminar on Yiddish literature that I took in graduate school was called “Yiddish Modernisms in Eastern Europe Between the Two World Wars.” I wrote a seminar paper on Moyshe Kulbak’s poem “Vilne,” and thank goodness, because here I am don’t-ask-how-many years later writing my dissertation, in part, about concepts of place in Kulbak’s writing. I still have my copy of the poem from that course, absolutely covered in notes and definitions of Yiddish words and cultural concepts I learned from reading that poem. Maybe this was the first time I read the word “Bund” in Yiddish? And I distinctly remember learning about the cultural beliefs associated with water carriers from the poem. A great poem like “Vilne” is always something of an iceberg, its total mass and weight and meaning and power invisible at first sight, its larger shape only becoming perceptible with careful investigation. But it becomes all the more iceberg-like from the position in which I and many young readers and potential translators of Yiddish find themselves: learning a foreign language and culture, especially given the extra challenges of immersing oneself in the many layers of Yiddish culture that inform any one work of literature. By extra challenges I mean the extreme disruptions to Yiddish cultural continuity given the many upheavals and catastrophes Yiddish underwent in the twentieth century: the disruptions of World War I, emigration, pressure to assimilate, World War II, Stalinism. Not only is the poem an iceberg, hiding most of its mass, but so much of the culture, the material history, the contexts of the poem are hidden from us as well, requiring real dedication from the reader and so much more so from the translator to understand.
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Interesting take on different imaginations of the Second World War.
[From The Washington Post]
In the Western popular imagination — particularly the American one — World War II is a conflict we won. It was fought on the beaches of Normandy and Iwo Jima, through the rubble of recaptured French towns and capped by sepia-toned scenes of joy and young love in New York. It was a victory shaped by the steeliness of Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower, the moral fiber of British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, and the awesome power of an atomic bomb.
But that narrative shifts dramatically when you go to Russia, where World War II is called the Great Patriotic War and is remembered in a vastly different light.
On May 9, Russian President Vladimir Putin will play host to one of Moscow’s largest ever military paradesto mark the 70th anniversary of the Soviet Union’s victory over Nazi Germany. More than 16,000…
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דוד בראַונס זיידע פֿלעגט באַקן אַ געשמאַקן מאָן־רולאַד; שׂרה־רחל און איוו ווײַזן אײַך ווי מע גרייט עס צו.
[From The Guardian]
Moriz Scheyer was the arts editor of Vienna’s prestigious Neues Wiener Tagblatt, a successful essayist and critic, and friend to Stefan Zweig, Bruno Walter and Gustav Mahler, when the Germans invaded Austria in 1938. He and his wife were also Jewish. For the next six months, before they escaped to France, Scheyer observed with growing disgust the speed and ease with which once sophisticated, cultured Vienna became a German city, complete with parades, slogans and Nazi brutality, and one in which Jews were regarded as pariahs. Anger and disbelief lie at the heart of Asylum, his account of survival in hiding in southern France through the years of German occupation. How, he asks again and again, could such persecution be allowed to happen in a civilised Europe?
France, loved by Scheyer since boyhood, was the natural place to seek refuge once his two stepsons had reached Britain to pursue their studies. What struck him at once, however, was the ostrich-like attitude of the French, who not only refused to recognise what was taking place just over the border, but all too soon, when the Germans arrived, proved so willing to accommodate themselves to their demands; indeed, to anticipate them. Scheyer is full of scorn for the French who chose neither to see nor to hear, but reserves his fury for the “fellow spivs and thugs of the Master Race of Criminals” who collaborated, and he refers to Pétain’s much trumpeted “révolution nationale” as “prostitution nationale”. The women, many of them from “good” society, who courted the occupiers with competitive zeal, savouring the “Nazi aphrodisiac”, come in for particular opprobrium. Paris, he wrote in the part diary, part memoir that would become his book, had “let itself go”, and the goose-stepping German soldiers treated it like a “fabled brothel of earthly treats”.
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From the Genocide Research Group Blog
Northumbria University: Thursday 22 January, 3pm, Sutherland Building Boardroom 1
Avril Alba teaches and researches in the areas of Holocaust and modern Jewish history. Prior to jointing the Department of Hebrew, Biblical and Jewish Studies at the University of Sydney in 2012, Avril worked as Education Director at the Sydney Jewish Museum where she also curated the permanent exhibition Culture and Continuity. She is currently the lead consulting curator for the redevelopment of the museum’s permanent Holocaust exhibition. Her monograph, The Holocaust Memorial Museum: Sacred Secular Space, will be published in 2015 by Palgrave Macmillan. In this heritage seminar, Avril will be talking about the intersection between her research and curatorial practice.
All welcome. Please RSVP to email@example.com
[from The New Yorker]
When Theodor Adorno declared, in 1949, that “to write poetry after Auschwitz is barbaric,” he could hardly have anticipated the ensuing quantity of poetry and prose that actually concerned itself with the Holocaust, still less its astonishing range and depth. The category now encompasses the densely narrated psychological-historical realism of André Schwarz-Bart and Imre Kertész, the Kafka-inspired dreamscapes of Aharon Appelfeld, and, later, the elliptical, deeply original fictions of W. G. Sebald. As the generations of firsthand witnesses give way to younger generations, literary works that confront the subject have often been more circumspect; recent novels by Susanna Moore and Ayelet Waldman achieve their emotional power by focussing upon characters peripheral to the terrible European history that has nonetheless altered their lives. The conflagration must be glimpsed indirectly, following Appelfeld’s admonition that “one does not look directly into the sun.”
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Interesting film review, including useful contextualisation of the Allies’ knowledge of concentration camps in 1944-45. Well worth a close read.
Today the blog recorded 15,000 hits, a major landmark
Here is the breakdown of tracks:
|Republic of Korea||31|
|United Arab Emirates||8|
|Trinidad and Tobago||3|
|Palestine, State of||2|
|Bosnia and Herzegovina||2|
|Syrian Arab Republic||1|
|United Republic of Tanzania||1|
“The Pin,” one of the first Yiddish language films to come out of North
America in over six decades, will be screening in Munich as part of Jewish
Film Days on Jan. 16, 2014 at 7:30. See the link for more details.
And read the New York Times review here:
The director is Naomi Jaye.
You can’t hide from justice forever—not even for war crimes committed decades in the past, and not even when you’re 93.
That message resounded loudly this week as Germany announced the arrest of Hans Lipschis, age 93, for complicity in mass murders that took place at the notorious Nazi death camp of Auschwitz-Birkenau, where he served as a guard in 1941-1945. Lipschis—who says he worked as a cook at Auschwitz—is the first to be charged from among a list of 50 former Auschwitz guards that the country’sCentral Office of the Judicial Authorities for the Investigation of National Socialist Crimes plans to probe.
Published May 8, 2013
Click here to read more.
[BBC news website]
Prosecutors in the German city of Stuttgart have confirmed they are investigating a former Nazi SS man for crimes at the Auschwitz death camp. Hans Lipschis, 93, worked at the camp in German-occupied Poland from 1941 – he says as a cook, German media report. His name appears as number four on the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s list of most-wanted Nazis. German media have identified him as living in Aalen in southern Germany. He has not yet been charged.
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As you know, the written exam will be some time in the assessment period at the end of semester 1 (as this is timetabled by the exams office, I don’t have the exact date yet). We will talk through the exam in some detail in week 12. Before leaving any queries here, please remember that there is a list of Exam FAQs on blackboard (in the Assessment folder). That resource is likely to have everything you need. Feel free to bring any additional queries here.