Verbal images of evil and (in)humanity during and after the Holocaust
In this paper, I explore images of evil and (in)humanity in the works of Primo Levi and Charlotte Delbo – verbal images that they encountered within Auschwitz and those that they created afterwards to try to bear witness to what happened there. Verbal images played a crucial role for Levi and Delbo in their efforts both to maintain a sense of their own humanity during their time in the concentration camp and to depict the extent to which inmates’ humanity was diminished and degraded by the Nazis. Thus, verbal images helped them both to maintain a sense of their own humanity and to depict the effort to destroy it. This dual role of verbal images found in their testimonies suggests that there is an intimate relationship between evil, images, and (in)humanity during and after the Holocaust – one that we would do well to consider.
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