For my doctoral thesis, I examined exhibitions at memorial sites and documentation centres in Germany and Austria. The question of my research was how these exhibitions represented the NS-perpetrators. I was interested in the explanations and interpretations they provided for the perpetrators and what statements, possibly unintended ones, the exhibition design had created. But beyond the exhibitions, I am concerned with contemporary approaches to National Socialist crimes and their perpetrators.
When you think of the city of Klagenfurt, illustrious names of German language literary and popular culture come to mind. Robert Musil, Ingeborg Bachmann or Udo Jürgens. You will find the house where Musil was born right in front of the train station, while a sculpture of Bachmann is in one of the many parks which form a green belt around the history-laden old city centre. What brought me here, though, was a more notorious side of the city’s past or, to be more precise, that of a number of its former residents.
The novelist David Mitchell has suggested there are three ‘themes hardwired into all novels: identity, memory and time.’ With narrative comes time; with time, memory; with memory, identity. In the six years it took me to write my debut novel, Testament, I was grappling with Joseph Silk, a protagonist who reorders time, denies memory, and […]
In summer 2018, the Zaglembie World Organization organized a tour of the Zaglembie (Zagłębie Dąbrowskie) region of southwestern Poland for Holocaust survivors and their descendants – those whose families had lived in this area and so many of whom had been murdered in the Nazi machinery of ghettoization, starvation, slave labour, and the gas chambers of nearby Auschwitz.