1st Edition

Holocaust, War and Transnational Memory Testimony from Yugoslav and Post-Yugoslav Literature

By Stijn Vervaet Copyright 2018
    196 Pages 4 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    196 Pages 4 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Until now, there has been little scholarly attention given to the ways in which Eastern European Holocaust fiction can contribute to current debates about transnational and transgenerational memory. Yugoslav and post-Yugoslav literary narratives about the Holocaust offer a particularly interesting case because time and again Holocaust memory is represented as intersecting with other stories of extreme violence: with the suffering of the non-Jewish South-Slav population during the Second World War, with the fate of victims of Stalinist terror, and with the victims of ethnic cleansing in the Yugoslav wars of the 1990s.

    This book examines the emergence and transformations of Holocaust memory in the socialist Yugoslav and post-Yugoslav eras. It discusses literary texts about the Holocaust by Yugoslav and post-Yugoslav writers, situating their oeuvre in the historical and discursive context in which it emerged and paying attention to its reception at the time. The book shows how in the writing of different generational groups (the survivor generation, the 1.5, and the second and third generations), the Holocaust is a motif for understanding the nature of extreme violence, locally and globally. The book offers comparative studies of several authors as well as readings of the work of individual writers. It uncovers forgotten authors and discusses internationally well-known and translated authors such as Danilo Kiš and David Albahari. By focusing on work by Jewish and non-Jewish authors of three generations, it sheds light on the ethical and aesthetical aspects of the transgenerational transmission of Holocaust memory in the Yugoslav context. As such, this book will appeal to both students and scholars of Holocaust studies, cultural memory studies, literary studies, cultural history, cultural sociology, Balkan studies, and Eastern European politics.

    List of Figures



    Part I The Generation of Survivors

    1. Holocaust Testimony in Socialist Yugoslavia

    2. Staging the Holocaust in the Land of Brotherhood and Unity: Đorđe Lebović’s Holocaust Dramas

    3. Ilija Jakovljević’s Poetry of Testimony

    Part II The 1.5 Generation

    4. Writing the Subject after the Holocaust: Konstantinović’s Ahasver, or Treatise about a Beer Bottle

    5. The Gulag and The Holocaust in Danilo Kiš’s A Tomb for Boris Davidovich

    Part III The Second and Third Generations

    6. Entangled Histories: Family Memories and the Representation of the Holocaust in the Work of David Albahari

    7. Berlin Encounters: The Yugoslav Wars of the 1990s through the Lens of the Holocaust

    8. Between Local and Global Politics of Memory: Holocaust Remembrance in Contemporary Serbian Prose Fiction and Film

    Concluding Remarks


    Stijn Vervaet is an Associate Professor in Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian and Balkan Studies in the Department of Literature, Area Studies, and European Languages at the University of Oslo, Norway.

    "Stijn Vervaet’s ground-breaking study not only fills the gaps in the existing literature on the topic, but also opens up new vistas and asks pertinent questions which will serve as signposts for many researchers in years to come. This valuable book deserves a wide readership and a careful reading."

    Zoran Milutinović, University College London, UK

    "In Holocaust, War and Transnational Memory, Vervaet creates an archive of Yugoslav literary works in order to trace the complexities, ambiguities and unexpected turns of Holocaust memory. While the argument is about the Yugoslav context, Vervaet’s masterful reading contributes to wider debates about testimony, witnessing and legacies of historical trauma."

    Emil Kerenji, Applied Research Scholar at The Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, USA