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The Unspeakable: Narratives of Trauma

Edited By Magda Stroinska, Vikki Cecchetto and Kate Szymanski

How does a trauma survivor communicate «what can’t be said out loud» to others? In what form? How can we – readers, listeners, viewers – recognize the pain and suffering hidden behind words, pictures, or other artifacts produced by trauma survivors? This volume presents a possible response by bringing together the «expressions of the unspeakable» by trauma survivors and the interpretation of researchers in various fields, i.e. clinical psychologists, linguists, anthropologists, literary and film scholars, historians, and visual artists, some of whom are survivors of trauma. By describing or analyzing different strategies for finding a narrative form for expressing the survivor’s trauma, the contributors offer not only insights into how the survivors dealt with the pain of traumatic memories but also how they were able to find hope for healing by telling their stories, in literature, graphic novels, visual art or simply by creating a personal narrative in their own voice.
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The Human Body in Nazi Concentration Camps: The Case of Stanisław Grzesiuk


Bożena Karwowska


Stanisław Grzesiuk’s Pięć lat kacetu (Five Years of Concentration Camps) is the account by a young Polish worker of his traumatic experiences in Nazi concentration camps. In this chapter, some of the approaches of feminist theory as applied to the literature of the Holocaust are used to analyze Grzesiuk’s work. The first part deals with the question of the body in his work, while an analysis of the body as a medium of communication is the main focus of the second part. It leads to the conclusion that it is Grzesiuk’s use of language, free of symbolic meanings, that enables him to discuss openly the existence of homosexuality in the camps, this despite his having been raised in a homophobic male subculture. An analysis of Grzesiuk’s account of homosexuality in the camps constitutes the third part of the chapter, which concludes by emphasizing the value of the feminist approach for Holocaust studies.

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