By Phyllis Lassner (auth.)
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Additional resources for Anglo-Jewish Women Writing the Holocaust: Displaced Witnesses
9 The recognition of such recalcitrant wounds can be found in recent interviews with Kindertransport members who ‘link their failures as adults causally with their early childhood experiences . . as a kind of inescapable fate’ (Hammel 69–70). Lathey reads memoirs of wartime childhoods as responding to an ‘autobiographical impulse’ that ‘increases in urgency with advancing age’ as childhood memory reawakens ‘the need to conduct a dialogue with the past and to channel pain or retrospective guilt’ (52).
Those Kinder who lost their parents to the dark world of Nazi ferocity faced a different kind of labyrinth, composed of twisting doubts about their parents’ fates and their own subjectivities and agency. As Martha Blend interprets the experience, ‘I felt as though some force far stronger than myself was dragging me to an abyss and I had no power to prevent it’ (32). The image of the abyss recalls Diane Samuels’s Ratcatcher who leads the children away from their parents, suggesting the sense of abandonment that accompanied the tentative possibility of rescue.
Rather than remain discrete, however, in some women’s memoirs, one point of view will be combined or alternate with another, as with Karen Gershon’s Inge and her narrator or the child and adult Lore and Lore Segal. The narrative effect of this interchange can reflect different ways of interpreting ‘the shifting nature of personal identity’: the sense of one’s varying personal and cultural choices over a lifetime or how the writing self constructs that of the child subject (Lathey 79). When point of view shifts without gesturing explicitly to these options, it may also represent both the uncertain effort to construct a stable point of view or the very action of disorientation.