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VWI invites/goes to...
Workshop “Modes of Expression. Testimonies, Metaphors, and Music”

Dienstag, 21. November 2023, 15:00 - 18:00

Bibliothek der Psychoanalyse, Sigmund Freud Museum Wien, Berggasse 19, 1090 Vienna


VWI goes to Sigmund Freud Museum

sigmund freud privatstiftung

03:00 pm
Aurélia Kalisky (Gerda Henkel Research Fellow)
The Tailor and His Poem. Cultural History of the Nazi Ghettos in the Eyes of Survivor Scholars (Michal Borwitz, Nachman Blumental, Joseph Wulf)
Commented by Daniela Finzi (Sigmund Freud Museum Wien)

04:00 pm
Alexandra Birch (VWI Research Fellow)
Music and Mizrachim. Tashkent, Yudakov, and Weinberg
Commented by Stephen Naron (Fortunoff Video Archive for Holocaust Testimonies)

05:00 pm
Atinati Mamatsashvili (VWI Senior Fellow)
The Shoes of the Outcast. Urban Configurations in the Literary Work of French-language Writers in the 1930s and during the Second World War
Commented by Erzsébet Fanni Tóth (Sigmund Freud PrivatUniversität)


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Abstracts and Short Bios

Aurélia Kalisky
The Tailor and His Poem. Cultural History of the Nazi Ghettos in the Eyes of Survivor Scholars (Michał Borwicz, Nachman Blumental, Joseph Wulf)

Immediately after the end of the Second World War, Jewish survivors of the Holocaust set up historical commissions in Poland. Their aim was to document Nazi crimes with a view to bringing the perpetrators to justice, but also to gather traces and documents relating to what had been Jewish life in the NS-Ghettos and camps. Three founding members of these commissions, Michał Borwicz, Nachman Blumental and Joseph Wulf, were particularly active in collecting traces of cultural life in the ghettos. They worked to publish and disseminate testimonial and literary texts produced by Jews during the genocide, and published what today appears to be the first works of cultural history of the Holocaust. The aim was to understand how Jews themselves had perceived the catastrophe that had befallen them, and above all how they had attempted to respond to it by writing texts (letters, testimonies, diaries, poems), composing songs or inventing jokes. By studying what historian Emanuel Ringelblum had described in his diary as a collective "writing fever", Borwicz, Wulf and Blumental were among the first to attempt to understand the issues involved in testimonial writing and literary creation as a Jewish response to the catastrophe.

Aurelia Kalisky, Gerda Henkel Research Fellow at the VWI, literary scholar, Fellow at the Centre Marc Bloch in Berlin since 2021, supported by the Fondation pour la Mémoire de la Shoah. Numerous articles on testimony, testimonial literature, politics of memory and historiography in the context of genocidal violence, especially the Shoah and the genocide of the Tutsi in Rwanda.

Commented by Daniela Finzi

Daniela Finzi is a literary and cultural scholar. She has worked as a Research Assistant at the Sigmund Freud Museum since 2009 and has been the Research Director and a Board Member of the Sigmund Freud Foundation since 2016. She is on the board of the cultural studies association aka – Arbeitskreis Kulturanalyse, a member of the editorial board of aka/Texte (Turia+Kant) and the co-editor of the Vienna University Press series “Sigmund Freud's Works. Viennese Interdisciplinary Commentaries”. Her most recent publications include the catalogue FREUD. Berggasse 19 – Origin of Psychoanalysis (Hatje Cantz, 2020) and, together with Elana Shapira, the anthology Freud and the Émigré (Palgrave Macmillan, 2020).

Alexandra Birch
Music and Mizrachim. Tashkent, Yudakov, and Weinberg

Within Soviet Holocaust historiography, there is increasing attention to the plight of evacuated Soviets as a dimension of Holocaust survival. Soviet citizens were evacuated not according to levels of danger, but rather material value to the state. Because the focus was not specifically evacuating Jews, Alexandra Birch considers the targeted evacuation of artists and musicians within a longer history of Soviet prioritisation of the arts and uses music as a vital ego document reflecting experiences of evacuation. Two such composers were Suleiman Yudakov, a Bukharian Jew who was born in Uzbekistan and returned to Central Asia after studying in Moscow during the War and Mieczyslaw Weinberg, a famous Western Soviet composer evacuated to Tashkent in 1942. In two sample compositions for the violin, we can hear the effects of evacuation and the mediated response of displaced artists who continued to negotiate with a volatile and antisemitic Soviet state postwar.

Alexandra Birch, VWI Research fellow, internationally acclaimed violinist and historian. Studied music (PhD) at Arizona State University, performed in over twenty countries. Currently studying history (PhD) at UC Santa Barbara on the connection between music and mass crimes in the former USSR.

Commented by Stephen Naron

Stephen Naron has worked as an archivist/librarian since 2003, when he received his MSIS from the University of Texas, Austin. He pursued a Magister in Jewish studies/history at the Freie Universität Berlin and the Zentrum für Antisemitismusforschung, TU. Stephen Naron has worked with the Fortunoff Archive for more than 12 years, starting as an Archivist. Now, as Director of the Fortunoff Archive, he works within the wider research community to share access to the Fortunoff collection through the access site programme, as well as writing and presenting on testimony for conferences, symposiums and class sessions inside and outside Yale. Stephen Naron is also responsible for spearheading initiatives such as preservation and digital access to the collection; cooperative projects with other testimony collections; oversight of fellowship and research programs; and the production of the podcasts, ethnomusicological recordings, and the Archive’s documentary film series.

Atinati Mamatsashvili
The Shoes of The Outcast. Urban Configurations in the Literary Work of French-Language Writers in the 1930s and During the Second World War

How can we connect a 19th-century painting to the contemporaneity, or even to the political and historical context of Nazism? When does Van Gogh’s Shoes (1886) become an intermedial reference to the walker, the urban dweller – the outcast and the oppressed, condemned to banishment by the murderous regime that sought to create a space ‘Judenrein’? What replica of these shoes can embody those painted by Leo Maillet in 1943, a German-Jewish artist who was hiding in Provence, France, or by Charlotte Salomon, who created them at the same time while in exile in the South of France and later killed in Auschwitz? This reflection will lead to a study of literary works produced during the 1930s and the Second World War, focusing on writers including Françoise Frenkel (1889-1975), Jean Cassou (1897-1986), Paul Willems (1912-1997), André Chamson (1900-1984), Max Jacob (1876-1944), and others. The post-war depictions that contextualise this idea of the shoes (by Anise Koltz, Samuel Beckett) serve to anchor the outcast man – exterritorialised and extirpated from the space he inhabited, including his own body – in a spatiality that is defined solely by exclusion. Expelled from any habitable space, he is simultaneously expelled from any human community.

Atinati Mamatsashvili, VWI Senior Fellow, Professor of Comparative Literature at the Ilia State University in Tbilisi. Main research interests: Literature and totalitarian regimes (Third Reich and Soviet Union), French and Francophone literature, and anti-Semitism. Member of the committee of the book series Comparative History of Literatures in European Languages (CHLEL).

Commented by Erzsébet Fanni Tóth

Erzsébet Fanni Tóth is the director of the Institute for Transgenerational Trauma Transfer Research, vice-dean for international relations at the Faculty of Psychotherapy Science, and lecturer in research methods at Sigmund Freud University in Vienna. She studied psychology and cultural anthropology at Utrecht University in the Netherlands, sociology and sociocultural anthropology at Central European University, and earned her PhD in psychotherapy science from Sigmund Freud University. Her research focuses on narration of traumatic memories in post-WW2 Central and Eastern Europe.

Foto: Lesesaal der Bibliothek © Hertha Hurnaus/Sigmund Freud Privatstiftung

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