Book launch — German-Jewish Life Writing in the Wake of the Holocaust: Beyond Testimony

You are invited to the launch of Professor Helen Finch’s new monograph, ‘German-Jewish Life Writing in the Wake of the Holocaust: Beyond Testimony’ (Camden House: 2023).

After a brief presentation of the monograph, Helen will be in conversation with Professor Stuart Taberner (Horizons Institute, University of Leeds) about the themes and questions in her book. There will also be an open Q and A session.

About the book

How did German-speaking Holocaust survivors pursue literary careers in an often-indifferent postwar society? How did their literary life writings reflect their post war struggles?

This monograph focuses on four authors who bore literary witness to the Shoah: H. G. Adler, Fred Wander, Edgar Hilsenrath and Ruth Klüger. It analyzes their autofictional, critical, and autobiographical works written between the early 1950s and 2015, which depict their postwar experiences of writing, publishing, and publicizing Holocaust testimony. These case studies shed light on the devastating aftermaths of the Holocaust in different contexts.

Adler depicts his attempts to overcome marginalization as a writer in Britain in the 1950s. Wander reflects on his failure to find a home either in postwar Austria or in the GDR. Hilsenrath satirizes his struggles as an emigrant to the US in the 1960s and after returning to Berlin in the 1980s. Finally, in her 2008 memoir, Ruth Klüger follows up her earlier, highly impactful memoir of the concentration camps by narrating the misogyny and antisemitism she experienced in US and German academia.

Helen Finch analyzes how these under-researched texts intertwine transgressive political criticism with the shadow of trauma. Drawing on scholarship on Holocaust testimony, transnational memory, and affect theory, her book reveals new perspectives on canon formation and exclusion in postwar German literature.

About the author

Helen Finch is Professor of German Literature in the School of Languages, Cultures and Society at the University of Leeds. Helen's main areas of research are in the representation of the Holocaust in German-language literature, queer identity and memory in German culture, and curriculum design. Linking all three is a concern with marginalised voices, poetics of resistance and diversification.

German Literature; Literature and the Holocaust; cultural trauma; gender in German culture; queer studies; queer memory; cultural memory; diversifying German studies


Book your place

This is a hybrid event, taking place in person (Room 2.29, Michael Sadler Building) and on Zoom.

Book your place.


Photograph of Dr Helen Finch.