Trauma in First Person

An examination of what can be learned by looking at the journals and diaries of Jews living during the Holocaust.

What are the effects of radical oppression on the human psyche? What happens to the inner self of the powerless and traumatized victim, especially during times of widespread horror? In this bold and deeply penetrating book, Amos Goldberg addresses diary writing by Jews under Nazi persecution. Throughout Europe, in towns, villages, ghettos, forests, hideouts, concentration and labor camps, and even in extermination camps, Jews of all ages and of all cultural backgrounds described in writing what befell them. Goldberg claims that diary and memoir writing was perhaps the most important literary genre for Jews during World War II. Goldberg considers the act of writing in radical situations as he looks at diaries from little-known victims as well as from brilliant diarists such as Chaim Kaplan and Victor Kemperer. Goldberg contends that only against the background of powerlessness and inner destruction can Jewish responses and resistance during the Holocaust gain their proper meaning.

“This is a book that deserves to be read well beyond Holocaust studies. Goldberg’s theoretical insights into “life stories” and his readings of law, language and what he calls the “epistemological grey zone” . . . provide a stunning antidote to our unthinking treatment of survivors as celebrities (as opposed to just people who have suffered terrible things) and to the ubiquity of commemorative platitudes.” —Times Higher Education

“Every decade or so, an exceptional volume is born. Provocative and inspiring, historian Goldberg’s volume is one such work in the field of Holocaust studies. . . . Highly recommended.” —Choice

“Amos Goldberg’s Trauma in First Person: Diary Writing During the Holocaust is an important and thought-provoking book not only on reading Holocaust diaries, but also on what that reading can tell us about the extent of the destruction committed against Jews during the Holocaust.” —Reading Religion

“Amos Goldberg’s work offers an innovative approach to the subject matter of Holocaust diaries and challenges well-established views in the whole field of Holocaust studies. This is a comprehensive discussion of the phenomenon of Jewish diary writing during the Holocaust and after.” —Guy Miron. Author of The Waning of Emancipation: Jewish History, Memory, and the Rise of Fascism in Germany, France, and Hungary

“This is an important contribution to trauma studies and a powerful critique of those who use the “crisis” paradigm to study the Holocaust.” —Dovile Budryt, Georgia Gwinnett College, Holocaust and Genocide Studies
Author: Amos Goldberg
Indiana University Press, 20 Nov 2017 - 306 pages

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