Testimonies from Auschwitz

Astrid Stockmarr

Student thesis: Master thesis


When Auschwitz was liberated on the 27th of January 1945 a major historical event had come to an end. The now infamous concentration and extermination camp had during the course of its longevity been the arena of the killings of more than 1 million primarily Jews in an un-precedented systematic and technological genocide. The prisoners who managed to survive the camp found their way back into life while carrying an indescribable experience within them. Some of these experiences were written down and published, and now we know them as testimony. Theorists Shoshana Felman and Dori Laub describe our time as “the age of tes-timony” and the century as a “post-traumatic century”. The amount of bloodshed in the 20th century is unfathomable, but through the writings of the survivors we are presented with a small insight to what is, by some, categorized as indescribable and therefore non-existent. Some of the discussion within the field is: Is it possible to describe something that resists words and resists comprehension? This thesis examines the function that the testimony provides both for the surviving witnesses and for the use of history. It does so by analyzing five different testimonies made by surviving prisoners of Auschwitz. Ultimately I conclude that the testimonies contribute to the liberation from the experiences from Auschwitz as well as some sense of meaning and purpose. For historical purposes the testimonies serves as a crucial source of evidence on the historical events that were Auschwitz and the Holocaust.

EducationsHistory, (Bachelor/Graduate Programme) Graduate
Publication date3 Dec 2018
Number of pages74
SupervisorsClaus Bundgård Christensen