“Negative” Anthropology in Texts about “Wolf Children” Cover Image

„Negatyvioji“ antropologija „vilko vaikus“
“Negative” Anthropology in Texts about “Wolf Children”

Author(s): Jūratė Sprindytė
Subject(s): Literary Texts
Published by: Lietuvos edukologijos universitetas
Keywords: literary anthropology, the fall of Königsberg, Wolf children, diffuse identity, memoirs, narrative stereotypes.

Summary/Abstract: To date, studies of literary imagery related to the end of the Second World War have not singled out or analyzed the theme of “Wolf children”. The author of this article focuses her attention on the recent revival of this theme in fictional works and in the memoir genre. “Wolf children” were minors who fled to Lithuania from East Prussia to escape the horrors and starvation of war. This topic was a long-standing taboo (during Soviet times because Germans were regarded as “fascists”; in Germany from feelings of guilt about how, as Hitler’s army retreated, the Königsberg area was allowed to be ravaged). The corpus of texts selected for this analysis conforms to the fundamental cultural anthropology premise that literary images are anthropological artifacts from a concrete historical context – that they are reliable sociocultural documents related not necessarily with aesthetic values but always connected to articulations of “humanity/inhumanity”. The author of the article compares manifestations of this theme in the imagery of three novels and two nonfiction works – a collection of memoir of wolf children rescued in Lithuania, Sugriautų namų vaikai (Children of Destroyed Homes, 1995), and the German Ruth Kibelka’s documentary historical study Vilko vaikai: kelias per Nemuną (Wolf Children: Crossing the Nemunas, published in Lithuanian in 2000). The novels and the documentary texts have surprisingly similar narrative structures. The author of the article examines delayed concealment of the theme, wandering as the characters’ constant state, the loss of identity, often unsuccessful searches for German roots, and the absolute domination of the negative from the very beginning of these peregrinations. Literary and documentary representations of Wolf children can be understood as a narrative tether between a liminal historical event and the unhappy fates of concrete individuals.

  • Issue Year: 16/2014
  • Issue No: 2
  • Page Range: 54-67
  • Page Count: 14
  • Language: Lithuanian