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Extra info for Anglo-Jewish Women Writing the Holocaust: Displaced Witnesses
Because, as so many Holocaust writers attest, the ordinary language of our everyday rarely even approximates their extreme circumstances and suffering, many forms of irony become favored devices of women’s writing to express the lexical and emotional distance. Several Kindertransport memoirs and fictions ironically juxtapose personal narratives with allusions to fairy tales in order to depict the often inchoate feelings of dispossession and disorientation as responses are complicated by the displacement of childhood with the onset of adolescence.
The qualitative range of care and sensitivity among foster parents, teachers, and supervisors varied as much as the social and economic circumstances of their foster homes and institutions. A poor 24 Anglo-Jewish Women Writing the Holocaust or wealthy family could just as easily be sensitive and nurturing as cruel and indifferent. From the perspective of foster families, one cannot forget that they had no training or even warning about the care and consideration of children who were anywhere from two to fourteen years old when they were torn from their parents’ arms and who as a result could suffer from such symptoms as bedwetting, nightmares, emotional withdrawal, and aggression.
Instead of the ritual expression of grief in reciting the Jewish prayer for the dead, Kaddish, the matrons at Ruth David’s Newcastle hostel preferred a silent if ‘outward show’, to wear ‘the same grey frock for many weeks, if not months, an ever-present reminder of her [friend’s] loss’ (116). Despite the radically different experiences they recount, Kindertransport and Holocaust memoirs share similar narrative structures to highlight the silences and absences that define them and the protagonists’ attempts to fill them with knowledge.