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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Narratives of Return: Babii Iar and Holocaust Literature in the Soviet Union

  • Author(s): Lekht, Naya
  • Advisor(s): MacFadyen, David
  • Koropeckyj, Roman
  • et al.

This dissertation examines Soviet literary texts devoted primarily to Babii Iar and other ravines where thousands of Soviet Jews and non-Jews were murdered by fascist occupiers during the Second World War. The centrality of Babii Iar as a symbol of the Holocaust for Soviet Jews and non-Jews is the point of departure for this dissertation, which redefines the contours of Holocaust literature. The purpose of the dissertation is to identify and analyze the following key problems: the divide between ravine literature and camp literature; the difference between the literature of witness and the belated, post-traumatic response to the Holocaust; the presumed lack of response to the Holocaust by Soviet figures; and the relationship between Yiddish and Soviet contexts. The ultimate goal of this dissertation is to broaden the current conception of the Holocaust and its literature to include texts written on Soviet territories during WWII. As such, the dissertation does not only unearth and analyze previously unknown works, but also argues for a new sub-genre of Holocaust literature.

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