Jews' Diaries and Chronicles

Amos Goldberg

in The Oxford Handbook of Holocaust Studies

Published in print November 2010 | ISBN: 9780199211869
Published online January 2011 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Religion and Theology

 Jews' Diaries and Chronicles

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Diary and memoir writing by Jews was the most significant and typical literary phenomenon of the Holocaust period. This article shows that Jews from almost all ages and cultural backgrounds wrote such documents in nearly all locations of persecution, including Auschwitz. Treating the ‘Holocaust diary’ as a linguistic-cultural phenomenon, it offers a typology: the ‘documentary diary’ focuses on recording events and raises the question of cultural continuity; the ‘synecdochical diary’ concentrates on the writer's individual experience and its relation to history; the ‘reflective diary’ explores existential and semi-philosophical issues. The article concludes by examining the reception of diaries and commenting on whether these texts bear witness to the persistence of the human spirit or precisely the opposite.

Keywords: Holocaust diary; Jewish memoirs; documentary diary; synecdochical diary; reflective diary; Auschwitz

Article.  7344 words. 

Subjects: Religion ; Religious Studies ; Judaism and Jewish Studies

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