Language of witness: Survivor testimony and narrative representation of the mauthausen experience
Holocaust, Mauthausen, Nazi concentration camps, Survivor accounts
Discourses on Nations and Identities
This study analyses and compares how survivors of the Nazi concentration camp of Mauthausen (Austria) recount significant events or situations in the camp at specific times and places in their testimonies published, right after the liberation, between 1945 and 1950. As an initial and exploratory stage of a large-scale investigation into survivor narratives, this article highlights two intersecting events at the Mauthausen main camp, Himmler’s visits and the arrival of Dutch Jews, and addresses the question of how Gostner, Hoffmann, Schifko-Pungartnik, Stantke, and Wiesenthal in their written accounts assessed, understood, reconstructed, and transmitted similar events, and how these camp experiences shaped their individual social realities. Preliminary answers in this study suggest that a systematic and comprehensive comparison of the inmates’ individual perceptions provides a more nuanced understanding of survivors’ shared harrowing experiences at the main camp of Mauthausen. Specifically, the study’s findings reveal how survivors interpreted their daily social reality as they were profoundly transformed and deeply scarred by the brutal and denigrating processes, hierarchies, and rules at the camp.
Department of Languages and Literatures
Original Publication Date
DOI of published version
UNI ScholarWorks, Rod Library, University of Northern Iowa
Wildner, Siegrun, "Language of witness: Survivor testimony and narrative representation of the mauthausen experience" (2021). Faculty Publications. 127.