In this essay, I contrast the ways in which artifacts in a museum, such as the display of hair at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, represent the Holocaust in terms of the silent/silenced “remains” of the victims and the ways in which four texts–Taube’s poem “A Single Hair,” Shayevitsh’s epic poem “Lekh-Lekho,” Zelkowicz’s vignettes and diary, and Menachem’s photomontage of the mother and child of Łódź–consciously ask us to consider how we shall know those who died by asking us to see the inhabitants of the Łódź ghetto and the prisoners of Auschwitz as gendered individuals who creatively, purposefully, urgently responded to their persecution. Given that the Nazi enterprise was dedicated to destroying the Jewish people, the representation of the Holocaust–especially within museums–is dedicated to representing the implements and the events of that destruction. However, the Jewish people (and the other victims of the Holocaust, as well) should not solely be known by the evidence of their destruction, for even in the times of their greatest peril many actively worked against their destruction by chronicling their lives and their desire to live in poetry, art, and journals. Taube, Shayevitsh, Zelkowicz, and Menachem, ask us to know those who died not through their remains but through their intentions, through their life stance in which they indicated their commitments and practice, revealing what they believed ultimately was important in their creative works.
|Keywords:||Holocaust, Individual, Gender, Museums, Poetry, Taube, Shayevitsh, Zelkowicz, Menachem|
Assistant Professor of Writing, The University Writing Program, The George Washington University, Washington, DC, Takoma Park, USA
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