To speak for those who cannot’: Masha Rol’nikaite on the holocaust and sexual violence in German-occupied Soviet territories

Sklaidos publikacijos / Dissemination publications
Document Type:
Straipsnis / Article
Anglų kalba / English
To speak for those who cannot’: Masha Rol’nikaite on the holocaust and sexual violence in German-occupied Soviet territories
In the Journal:
Jewish history. 2020, 33, p. 215-244
Reikšminiai žodžiai: Maša Rolnikaitė; Holokaustas; Seksualinis smurtas; Lietuva; Literatūra. Keywords: Masha Rolnikaite; Holocaust; Sexual violence; Lithuania; Literature.
20 amžius; Holokaustas / Holocaust; Literatūra / Literature; Maša Rolnikaitė (Masha Rol’nikaite); Seksualinė prievarta; Žydai / Jews.
Sexual violence.
Summary / Abstract:

ENMasha Rol’nikaite’s diary and novels, published in Soviet times, offer a unique perspective on German-occupied Lithuania, yet her oeuvre is virtually unknown in the English-speaking world. The books give a vivid account of the destruction of Jewish families and their survival, and of gendered and sexual violence against Jewish and non-Jewish women, effectively confronting a double layer of silence and taboo that unnamed the destruction of Soviet Jewry and of sexual violence for decades. Furthermore, the author explores how female survivors struggled to live on with the repercussions of Nazi violence and the ethical quandaries they had been exposed to during war and occupation. Foregrounding individual experiences, Rol’nikaite traces the breakdown of communal and familial networks in the face of extraordinary violence as well as its aftermath. Her work is firmly grounded in personal experiences, suggesting that the writer consciously blurs the line between historical and literary representation. The fictionalization of the genocide of the Jewish population and of brutal sexual assaults challenges Soviet portrayals of the war that focused on military confrontation, victory, and rebuilding. The article draws on Rol’nikaite’s oeuvre, several interviews with her, archival material as well as newer scholarship on the destruction of Soviet and Lithuanian Jewry and sexual violence and its perception, to illustrate and contextualize Rol’nikaite’s emphasis on interlocking violence that shaped the lives of young Jewish women under the German occupation regime. [From the publication]

1572-8579; 0334-701X
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2022-10-06 09:38:42
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