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Jacobson, Kenneth
Embattled Selves: An Investigation into the Nature of Identity Through Oral Histories of Holocaust Survivors: An Investigation into the Nature of Identity Through Oral Histories of Holoca Survivors
Verlag: Avalon Travel Publishing 1994
ISBN: 978-0871135711
358 S.


Der Autor über sein Buch: Universal Questions of Identity are the Focus

My intention in writing Embattled Selves was to focus far more on universal issues of identity than on the specific experience of European Jews between 1933 and 1945. I was interested in showing the way individuals' lives are shaped by several fundamental and compelling questions: What is essential to who one is and what is not? How much does being a member of a group make one who one is as an individual? How much can one change and still remain the same person? What is the price of change? What price will one pay not to change?

To me, the book's 15 life histories are flesh-and-blood allegories: The narrators illustrate, in recounting their thoughts, feelings, and choices, how each of their lives is an attempt to come to grips with these vital questions--during a historical period in which the questions themselves could be a matter of life and death. I have limited my own observations to a handful of brief, interpretive passages meant mainly to suggest how the stories connect with the identity theme; it was most important to me to present the narratives in a way that would not interfere with readers' forming their own intellectual and emotional relationships to those who speak.

From 280 interviews, Jacobson has culled the oral histories of 10 men and 5 women who discovered, concealed, embraced, or rejected their Jewishness in the face of Nazi Germany's final solution in Europe during World War II. These people were in a position of having to choose between a Jewish and a non-Jewish identity or to find a way of making the two coexist. There were those who assumed a non-Jewish persona in an attempt to foil the Nazis, and those who revealed or insisted on a Jewish connection even when it put them at peril. And there were those who had Jewishness thrust upon them--those who had been unaware of their Jewish background before being threatened because of it or who had known of it but had wanted no part of it. In these compelling stories about 15 Holocaust survivors, Jacobson raises fundamental questions about  attitudes, conscious choices, and what ultimately is essential about relationships. George Cohen (From Booklist)