In 1980, the German-Jewish author Grete Weil published the autobiographical novel Meine Schwester Antigone. Through an innovative rewriting of Sophocles’ Antigone myth, the novel both deals with the protagonist’s wartime experiences under the Nazis (exile in Amsterdam, her husband’s deportation and death at the Mauthausen concentration camp, her survival in hiding) and also presents a critique of late-1970s German culture and its failed attempt at Vergangenheitsbewältigung (confronting the past). The novel won great acclaim in Germany, and Weil was awarded several literary prizes for this and a subsequent novel, Der Brautpreis (1988). A few years later, in 1992, Ruth Klüger, an American of Austrian-Jewish descent, published the German-language memoir weiter leben: Eine Jugend which recounts a childhood under Hitler in Austria, deportation and survival in several concentration camps, subsequent postwar life in the United States, and the complex relationship of Jews to present-day Germans and things German. The book became a bestseller in Germany and was hailed by one critic as a “Miracle of Language” with which Klüger achieved a “return”to Germany.1


Jewish Identity Jewish Woman Eyewitness Testimony Survivor Literature German Culture 
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© Pascale R. Bos 2005

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