Beyond Closure: The Artistic Re-Opening of Holocaust Trials in Works by Hannah Arendt, Peter Weiss, Roland Suso Richter, and Uwe Timm

Steitz, Kerstin, German - Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, University of Virginia
Grossman, Jeffrey, Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures, University of Virginia

This dissertation examines how the twentieth and twenty-first century German and German-Jewish authors and filmmakers Hannah Arendt, Peter Weiss, Roland Suso Richter, and Uwe Timm engage with historical Holocaust trials: the Eichmann trial in Jerusalem (1963), the Frankfurt Auschwitz trial (1963-1965), and the Hamburg trial (1967). The legal and literary trials have the same subject, the Jewish genocide committed by the National Socialists, but they treat the subject in different forms: the Eichmann and Auschwitz trials were legal criminal trials, Arendt’s Eichmann in Jerusalem (1965) is a report, Weiss’s Die Ermittlung (1965) is composed in the form of the oratorio, Suso Richter’s film Nichts als die Wahrheit (1999) is a courtroom drama, and Timm’s Am Beispiel meines Bruders (2003) is a memoir.
The analysis and juxtaposition of legal trials and literary engagements from both first- and second-generation writers and filmmakers seeks to answer the question of how literary, theatrical, and filmic trials can commemorate and convey dimensions of the Holocaust that do not fit easily into the judicial concepts, practices, and purposes of the legal trials. Drawing from Aristotelian definitions of judicial and epideictic rhetoric in his Rhetoric, this study argues that the legal and literary trials function in a structural relation to one another, thereby complementing each other. The artistic works criticize and correct what they consider the pitfalls of the legal proceedings.
Beyond Closure: The Artistic Re-Opening of Holocaust Trials argues that the Holocaust narratives created by the legal trials shape in significant ways the literary trials which adapt certain judicial concepts and practices, while simultaneously moving beyond the accusatory and punitive purpose of the legal trials to more fully understand, commemorate, and mourn the suffering of the victims and connect them to the present age.

PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
Twentieth Century German literature, Twentieth Century German-Jewish literature, Postwar German literature, Postwar German-Jewish literature, Holocaust literature, law and literature, Holocaust Trials, Eichmann Trial, Eichmann Trial in Jerusalem, Frankfurt Auschwitz Trial, Auschwitz Trial, Hamburg Trial, Eichmann in Jerusalem, Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil, Hannah Arendt, Gideon Hausner, Eichmann Trial, Fritz Bauer, Peter Weiss, Bertolt Brecht, Oratorium, Lehrstück, Roland Suso Richter, Nichts als die Wahrheit, Josef Mengele, fictional Mengele trial, Uwe Timm, Am Beispiel meines Bruders, second-generation, Christopher Browning, Ordinary Men, judicial rhetoric, epideictic rhetoric
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