Child Survivors and Writers of the Holocaust: The Aim of Memory

Category: Season 3


L. Scott Lerner

When France was occupied by Nazi Germany during the Second World War, thousands of Jews were rounded up by the French police and sent to the death camps. Others, more fortunate, went into hiding and managed to survive, but only at tremendous psychological cost. A very small number of these survivors became writers, even great writers. This presentation focuses on three extraordinary memoirs of French victim-survivors of the Holocaust. Two are by child survivors, who eluded capture but also lost their parents and a great part of their identity. A third writer was born later than the others—during the Occupation, in fact—and has devoted his entire literary career to the search for the murky past of Nazi occupied Paris. His name is Patrick Modiano and in 2014 he won the Nobel Prize for Literature.

In this lecture, Professor Lerner will guide viewers through their fascinating, novel-like memoirs. Along the way, he will provide an answer to the question: What is the aim of memory in these texts?

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