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May 19, 2008 Humanities Core Course Today's Plan 1) Office Hours 2) Your Research Papers 3) Kluger's Still Alive
Office hours will be Thursday at 12: 30 -2: 30
More questions about your research papers?
Okay, now we return to Kluger's Still Alive.
A “fun” group activity.
Okay, now, I purpose we go over the Study Questions.
13. What do you make of her comments on p. 71 and elsewhere that her readers are most likely female? - Multiple answers possible. When the German version came out, Kluger got a lot of letters from men who read the book and who were offended by this claim. She is also the author of a much-excerpted book called “Frauen lesen anders” or “Women read differently. ” It reminds me of Virginia Woolf in “A Room of One’s Own” who assumed (more correctly) that her readers were women. But is *this* chick lit?
14. What is Theresienstadt? Name 2 -3 things that happen to her there. Why is she so annoyed by the colleague’s wife who says it was not so bad? - There was some controversy as to whether Theresienstadt was a ghetto or a camp and she addresses this. Parts of it were actually shown to representatives of the public as a “model camp, ” but Kluger points out that it was a prison and very cramped w/o adequate facilities. Gisela is comparing T-stadt with the worst reports of Jewish suffering under Hitler and thus concluding that it was ok.
15. What is Zionism and what does it mean to her in the camps? - You probably think of Zionism in terms of violent events in the Middle East and these particular references are not invested with current politics. It is the mid-1940 s and she is a Jewish child in a series of concentration camps, who would love to emigrate to Eretz Israel.
16. (79 -83) Antigone was able to bury her brother. What happened to Schorschi? - She laments that they do not have “clear knowledge” about his death. This absence of certainty allows her mother to hope.
17. (92 -93) The section on the discussion of claustrophobia is crucial to understanding the book. Why is this socially awkward for her? Where does she see connections between her memories and theirs? - Her memories of claustrophobia are connected with a very unpleasant past and mentioning the circumstances would stop the conversation. Survivors’ experiences are not part of polite conversation but she is trying to bridge the gap between her friends’/her readers’ experience and hers.
18. (104 -109) Kluger gives us an extended commentary on DOING. Follow the narration of the GOOD DEED that seems unmotivated but which saved her life. How do you understand this? - Multiple answers possible. Some may see it as not surprising that a woman helped a child survive, but given the circumstances she was used to by then, this was a significant departure from standard operating procedure and it is apparently the reason she is Still Alive.
19. (112) Why does she tell us what happened to the remaining members of the Theresienstadt family camp? - This is the confirmation of the good deed and don’t miss the fact that the others in her transport were gassed.
20. (114) Describe her thoughts on seeing the little boy from the train. - She speaks of “simultaneity” and how differently the two children were living being on different sides of the Nazi regime. Also she will later compare Martin (Walser) to the boy. Walser is a very prominent German novelist (seen as the German John Updike) who has also generated a lot of controversy by speaking out on the use of Ausschwitz as a “moral bludgeon. ” He and Kluger have been publicly at odds since he published a novel “Death of a Critic” (Tod eines Kritikers) whose protagonist was the thinly disguised Jewish intellectual Marcel Reich-Ranicki. Many readers, including Kluger, found it to be anti-Semitic and she published an open letter criticizing the portrayal.
21. Where does her sister Susi enter the picture? - Her mother adopted a child in Auschwitz. This is one of the few expressions of unalloyed admiration (though she qualifies it somewhat on 123) for her mother and it is important to realize that in spite of the criticism of her mother, the narrative describes a woman who (mostly) protected her child from murderous Nazis.
22. How do Susi, Alma, and Ruth escape? Why is their story not like that of Huck Finn? (138) - They run from the march, feel exuberance, and join a huge number of mobile Germans and Poles. The reference to (not) Huck Finn is meant to qualify the expressions of happiness, exuberance since they had escaped, but were still in danger. “not a humorous journey”
23. What does the National Socialist Women’s Verein (Club) do and what happens to them. Explain the manna reference. - They distribute sandwiches (manna) to refugees whom they think are German and give Kluger much comfort. Later they are punished as a Nazi organization. These Nazi women seem to support the point Kluger made earlier about the gender gap in evil-doing (115 -116). The Ladies Auxiliary distributes food, whereas the men’s organization murders.
24. What happened with Einstein? (161) - A friend wrote to him, received encouragement, wrote again and was rebuffed by his secretary, whom Kluger later encountered at Princeton. It is a failure of kindness but significant under the circumstances.
25. (181) “The Holocaust had no name as yet. ” When did it acquire one? - In the seventies.
26. (214) How does this end? - Is it redemptive?
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