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Their Childhood and the Holocaust

A Child’s Perspective in Polish Documentary and Autobiographical Literature

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Justyna Kowalska-Leder

Children have a specific perception of the Holocaust: it did not destroy their earlier world view, but became the field of first experiences. This book focuses on the traumatic dimension of the Holocaust and how it is expressed (or left unexpressed) in children’s diaries. «Here and Now» under the German Occupation presents an analysis of diaries and school elaborations written in Polish by Jewish children during German Occupation . A Literary Return to Childhood during the Holocaust is dedicated to Polish retrospective literature, in which authors return to the experience of the Holocaust during their childhood years.
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2. Do children tell lies?

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In the now classical text on the typology of novels, Franz Stanzel in respect to the precepts of ancient Greek rhetoric proposes that the form of narration has the potential to make a specific impression on the reader and that its contents are an important part of the function of its narrative means. Stanzel distinguishes two basic forms of narration: stories that are relational in nature and those that are so-called staged presentations. Each in turn, is responsible for a different means of reading:

In the relational story the reader observes events from the chronological and spatial distance of the author’s position. Singular events, as well as a whole series that takes place, in the mind of the reader finish in the past.494

Staged presentations, however, are a different matter. The reader as if becomes an eyewitness to the course of events set in place in the present, which forces the reader to ‘co-experience these as if in actu. This form of rhetoric has the effect that the reader enters into a relationship of empathy, sharing fear, tension and uncertainty’.495 It is worth noting that Stanzel proposes in this instance certain ideal types, which as he himself admits, rarely occur in literature in a pure form. In this context narration may simply be inclined more to one or the other of these directions.

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