Negotiating German victimhood in the American misery memoir

Schmucker, Dietlinde (2018). Negotiating German victimhood in the American misery memoir. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.

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This study brings together for the first time four non-canonical memoirs written by women from various backgrounds who emigrated from Germany to the United States in the early post-war years and whose texts were published in English in the United States between 2004 and 2011: Irmgard Powell, Don 't Let Them See You Cry: Overcoming a Nazi Childhood (2008); lrmgard A. Hunt, On Hitler 's Mountain: Overcoming the Legacy of a Nazi Childhood (2005); Maria Ritter, Return to Dresden (2004); Sabina de Werth Neu, A Long Silence: Memories of a German Refugee Child 1941-1958 (2011). The memoirs chosen for this study were written by women who were born in Germany between 1932 and 1941 . These memoirs address an American readership and entered the American public sphere via the popularity of the contemporary misery memoir. I demonstrate how the trope of the innocent child, articulations of citizenship and confessions to guilt and shame construct the necessary framework of German culpability for the Nazi past to enable a testimony to the victimhood of the protagonists, their families and, in part, the wider German population. The memoirs of
childhood are, therefore, expressions of personal, collective and transnational memory. This study contributes not only to memory and literary studies but also to a historiography of National Socialism that includes diverse individual stories from the bottom up, of women belonging to the Kriegskinder generation who now live in the United States.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Arts & Law
School or Department: School of Languages, Cultures, Art History and Music, Department of Modern Languages
Funders: None/not applicable
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN0080 Criticism


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