Date of Award


Document Type

Campus Access Thesis


Theatre and Dance



First Advisor

Amy Lehman


Theatre played a significant role in the Holocaust experiences of playwright, activist, and Auschwitz survivor Charlotte Delbo. Turning to drama again and again to cope with the horrors of the concentration camps, Delbo and her companions in the camps proved that theatre is, in fact, an innate human impulse and not merely a form of entertainment born out of luxury. While interned in several different Nazi camps and prisons, Delbo used theatre for three major purposes: to strengthen the bonds of friendship between herself and her fellow prisoners by appealing to a shared sense of cultural identification, to periodically occupy an imaginative space beyond the harsh reality of the camps, and to develop and preserve her own powers of memory. After liberation, she continued to use theatre to process traumatic memories, to communicate the truth of the Holocaust to the world outside, and to honor others who had fallen victim to the crimes of Hitler's Third Reich. Though Delbo herself warned against exaggerating the power of the theatrical experience against the inhuman violence of the camps, her dramatic work demonstrates that the form can be used as a highly effective method for coping with trauma.


© 2010, Miriam Hahn