Three Monkeys Online

A Curious, Alternative Magazine

Memory and the Shoah. To talk or remain silent? From silence to the era of witness.

The lack of demand, and the absence of an audience, consigned to oblivion the first voices that were raised. A number of different factors contributed to their weakening and condemned them to silence

  • An initial desire on the part of the Jewish community not to stand out, and to share in the common tragedy
  • The negative contrast politically between the figure of the deported and that of the Partisan. The deported, were considered ”losers” and useless in terms of political campaigning value.
  • The conviction, ever strong, that some experiences are impossible to put across to those who have not lived through them, and that couldn’t understand. Because the language didn’t exist that could explain Auschwitz, that could express the suffering caused by separation from loved ones, to understand that you would never see them again, and that you were not even able to say goodbye; that could give an idea of the cramps from an unspeakable hunger, or of the unfathomable fear.

[…] immediately after our return we were all, I believe, in the midst of a delerium. We wanted to talk and to be finally listened to. They told us that our physical appearance spoke for itself. […] You understood straight away though that it would never be possible to bridge the distance that we were discovering, between the language that we had at our disposal, and that of the experience that nearly all of us were still chasing inside. [Robert Antelme The Human Race]

Even the new-born state of Israel (founded in May 1948), with its face to the future, supporter of the &ldquonew Jew”, had no inclination to listen.

They shouldn’t tell us the things that have happened to them because what has happened to them is shameful to them and to us.

[Amos Oz Story about love and darkness]

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