Date of Award

2015

Document Type

Open Access Dissertation

Department

Comparative Literature

First Advisor

Agnes Mueller

Abstract

This dissertation combines cultural theory and gender theory with literary criticism to evaluate the treatment of lesbians during the Holocaust and in narratives about the Holocaust. Responding to the kissing-scene controversy of the Berlin memorial for the homosexual victims of the Holocaust I claim that lesbian women’s experience of suffering is downplayed and disappears under the umbrella term ‘homosexuals.’ Employing a critical historical conceptualization of “lesbian love,” I consider examples from Claudia Schoppmann’s Days of Masquerade and Verbotene Verhältnisse as well as the personal estate of political activist Hilde Radusch to trace the personal view lesbians have of themselves. Shifting focus onto lesbian suffering in Erica Fischer’s Aimée & Jaguar and Alexandra von Grote’s Novembermond, I specifically argue that narratives with lesbian love stories set during the Holocaust only work in the context of one partner being Jewish. Religious persecution and discrimination based on sexual identity are conflated to overshadow each other: a reading as either Jewish or lesbian suffering is rejected in favor of the novelty of a lesbian love story. Employing critical conceptualizations of “identity” and “memory” I further develop the idea of what the representation or misrepresentation of lesbian persecution during the Holocaust means for a shared identity and collective memory of a German lesbian community today.

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