By Phyllis Lassner (auth.)
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Lesser Child 195) The emphasis here on ‘home’ forms a mnemonic pattern that accords with other women’s Kindertransport memoirs to show the domesticated, family oriented nature of their lessons and doubts about belonging. For example, from a retrospective point of view, these writers will often project onto the past what they learned about the duplicity of neighbors who did not hesitate to betray the children’s families. While such lessons unsettle more nostalgic memories, they can as well be juxtaposed with hopes for the future.
Segal’s invocation of the rhyme reminds us of how the game and rhyme are typically repeated until the children fall down from exhaustive laughter. But of course the translation into Holocaust meaning is no laughing matter; rather the repetition is redolent with Nazis’ inexhaustible machinery of extermination. The Nazi use of a mythical history to justify a science of mechanized death is the final step in a 34 Anglo-Jewish Women Writing the Holocaust process that begins with the exploitation of the pastoral form.
As though reflecting the excruciating effort to create coherence from snippets of disconnected memories, the narrative design is often fractured and atomized. Regardless of religious observance or economic status, whether home is Stuttgart, Prague, or Vienna, bits and pieces of birthday parties, school days, summer picnics, and visits with extended families combine to express a yearning for memories of wholeness and connectedness. Paradoxically, these snippets also show how memories into which the material and emotional realities of home have dissolved, are piecemeal and punctured.
Anglo-Jewish Women Writing the Holocaust: Displaced Witnesses by Phyllis Lassner (auth.)