Anglo-Jewish Women Writing the Holocaust: Displaced by Phyllis Lassner (auth.)

By Phyllis Lassner (auth.)

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Then, as the young refugees struggled to integrate into British society, their links to the atrocities may have seemed even more remote, reinforcing the sense that their experiences and responses were peripheral. This marginalization was exacerbated by the fact that even the core events that shaped the refugees’ experiences, as well as their reactions, often receded into lost or blurred memories. This was especially true for the younger children. Then, when so many learned that their families had been killed, their stories of escape were overwhelmed by grieving, further adaptation, and continued migrancy.

As a kind of inescapable fate’ (Hammel 69–70). Lathey reads memoirs of wartime childhoods as responding to an ‘autobiographical impulse’ that ‘increases in urgency with advancing age’ as childhood memory reawakens ‘the need to conduct a dialogue with the past and to channel pain or retrospective guilt’ (52). An important component of this guilt is that it is rarely felt in childhood or then revived (59). Instead, the guilt develops as the search for knowledge and reflection about the past moves adult writers to consider the psychological implications of their escaping an event that trapped so many.

In effect, the misunderstandings that so often shaped their initial British experiences were reflected back to them as an image of a child monster – a changeling. As Edith Milton recalls, the journey to rescue made her feel like ‘some monster hybrid halfway between an enemy alien and an English schoolgirl’ (Tiger 14). When Milton appears in an English school production of Midsummer Night’s Dream as Puck, she finds herself identifying with the ‘Monsters and fairies: aliens. That was me’ (Tiger 63).

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