Szymon Datner’s Memory Speeches: Early Testimonies of a Holocaust Survivor from Białystok Cover Image

Mowy pamięci Szymona Datnera: wczesne świadectwa białostoczanina ocalonego z Holokaustu
Szymon Datner’s Memory Speeches: Early Testimonies of a Holocaust Survivor from Białystok

Author(s): Katrin Stoll
Subject(s): History
Published by: Żydowski Instytut Historyczny
Keywords: Szymon Datner; Białystok; testimonies

Summary/Abstract: The article examines selected early post-Holocaust testimony by the Polish-Jewish survivor historian Dr. Szymon Datner (1902-1989) from the theoretical perspective of Sigrid Weigel’s as well as Dori Laub’s and Annette Auerhahn’s concept of testimony. The focus is on testimony as memory-speech, addressed to others: those who were murdered, the reader, and future generations. Proceeding from Weigel’s assumption that testimonies – as source material situated beyond the opposition of fact and fiction – are first and foremost about testifying to the experience of the actual occurrence of this unthinkable event, the article analyzes two testimonies produced in Białystok in the immediate aftermath of the liberation from German occupation: 1): The prologue to Szymon Datner’s Der kamf un khurbn fun yidishn Bialistok un bialistoker provints (written in 1946 and so far unpublished except for one chapter), which has the function of an epigraph and an apostrophe. It is addressed to the Jewish community of Białystok, to which he belonged and felt accountable to. 2): the story Nazywam się Halinka i mam cztery lata, written in 1944 and first published in Poland in 1969. The latter, which forms part of Szymon Datner’s collection Szkice partyzanckie i inne, is a literary treatment of a real event: the cruel murder of a four-year old Jewish girl in the Polish countryside in the Białystok district during the so-called third phase of the Holocaust in Poland. Approaching this artistic writing against the background of Joel Fineman’s theoretical concept of the Anecdote and providing an analysis of the “latent content” (Hayden White), it is demonstrated that the historical Real, the murder of Datner’s daughters, is indirectly represented in the text.

  • Issue Year: 243/2012
  • Issue No: 03
  • Page Range: 380-404
  • Page Count: 25
  • Language: Polish