What can a box of old German Holocaust letters found in an American attic tell us about Jewish life in Vienna after the »Anschluss«? What obstacles did the translator face when deciphering this transatlantic family correspondence for the American descendants of the Viennese letter-writer who herself had perished in the Holocaust?
The fragile, handwritten Viennese letters penned by an old lady from a highly assimilated Jewish family during the late 1930s and early 1940s no longer spoke for themselves—they needed to be transcribed, deciphered, interpreted, and contextualized. Furthermore, the letter-writer had been unable from the start to communicate directly about the increasing danger in which she found herself. To outwit the postal censors and her own internal censorship, she used codeto describe her ever-changing and increasingly dangerous situation to her sibling, children, and grandchildren across the globe.
The woman who wrote these letters died in Terezín in 1942. The recipient of these letters, her only daughter who had fled to the United States with her family, died almost thirty years ago. This talk addresses the riddles that the translator had to solve and the extensive archival research that had to be conducted before the letters could communicate a multigenerational Holocaust family story, in which the daily life of the elderly in Nazi Vienna is narrated in great detail.
Bettina Brandt is Teaching Professor of German and Jewish Studies at the Pennsylvania State University and currently City of Vienna/IFK_Fellow. Brandt has received several awards and fellowships for her collective biography about an extended Viennese-Jewish family with a focus on the Holocaust years and the care for the elderly left behind in Nazi Europe.
THE LECTURE WILL BE HYBRID.
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