Holding On and Holding Out: Jewish Diaries from Wartime France
Published: May 2020© 2020
Imprint: University of Toronto Press
Page Count: 280 Pages
Dimensions: 6.00 x 9.00
280 Pages, 6.00 x 9.00 x 0.90 in
Examining the diary as a particular form of expression, Holding On and Holding Out provides unique insight into the experiences of Jews in France during the Second World War. Unlike memoirs and autobiographies that reconstruct particular life stories or events, diaries record daily events without the benefit of retrospect, describing events as they unfold. Holding On and Holding Out assesses how individuals used diaries to record their daily life under persecution, each waiting for some end with a mix of hope and despair. Some used the diary to bear witness not only to the terror of their own lives, but also to the lives and suffering of others. Others used their writing as a memorial to people who were killed. All used their writing to assert: "I live, I will have lived."
Holding On and Holding Out follows the diaries of two specific individuals, Raymond-Raoul Lambert and Benjamin Schatzman, from their first entry to the last one they wrote before they disappeared into the Nazi extermination camps. The author concludes the book by considering how reflections on their experience are informed by the times in which they lived, before the advent of persecution.
1. Narratives of Identity
Introduction: The Experience of Identification
A Pronoun Tells Its Stories: "We"
Stories of Performance
The Slender Thread of Memory
2. The Place of the Self: Raymond-Raoul Lambert
A Jew of France
A Place in Books
3. Making It Last: Benjamin Schatzman
I Am Unrecognisable
Making It Last
4. Narratives of Time
Introduction: The Experience of Time
An Adverb Tells Its Stories: "Already"
Stories of Waiting
i. Saül Castro’s Worry Beads
ii. Jean Oppenheimer’s Tartine
iii. The Posthumous Life of Hélène Berr
Coda: The Self in History