About the GeoBib Project
The Term “Holocaust and Concentration Camp Literature”
Since the 1980s, the term “Holocaust literature” has been firmly established among academics as both a literary term and an area in literary studies. The academic engagement with Holocaust literature has traveled over from the United States to Germany, where it has similarly developed into a multifaceted field of research.
In approaching a definition of “Holocaust literature” as a genre, one must first consider what is generally understood by the term “Holocaust.” Based on our broad understanding of the term, “Holocaust” encompasses all aspects of National Socialist policy in the persecution and the extermination of Jews, political opponents, homosexuals, Sinti and Roma, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and others, beginning with the first examples of exclusion upon the National Socialist Party’s rise to power in 1933 and ending with the mass exterminations during World War II (1939 – 1945).
As the persecution and execution of European Jews represents the crux of the Holocaust, their genocide should by no means be equated to the Nazis’ other crimes. With regard to the literary conceptualization of the genre, however, it would be insufficient to include a German Jew’s memories of his concentration camp imprisonment between 1935 and 1938 while excluding a non-Jewish prisoner’s memories in the same camp at the same time. Indeed, the complex historical developments and the discrimination of the Nazi persecution policy must be taken into account. From the perspective of literary history, the textual sources from the different phases of persecution and extermination demonstrate strong connections with one another. To be sure, genre conventions developed early on and have influenced the texts produced ever since. In order to avoid misunderstandings, the term has expanded to “Holocaust and concentration camp literature.”
Holocaust and Concentration Camp Literature
In accordance with our understanding of Holocaust and concentration camp literature, all literary texts that treat the Holocaust fall into this category. This not only includes sources written during the events, such as diaries, chronicles, and others, but also retrospectively penned memories. The term also includes works of fiction, namely novels, poetry, and drama that were composed during the Holocaust or after the war.
The online bibliography selection is restricted to texts that correspond to the aforementioned definition of “Holocaust and concentration camp literature” and were published independently in German or Polish. Sources from both those directly affected and those not directly affected are considered. However, texts produced by perpetrators or accomplices, i.e. the publication Konzentrationslager Oranienburg [Oranienburg Concentration Camp] written by its camp commander Werner Schäfer, are not included. Whereas publications that exclusively treat the situation in exile have been excluded, texts that follow the history of persecution leading to exile, e.g. Lion Feuchtwanger’s novel Exil [Exile], are included. You can find a list of the arranged texts here.
Because the amount of accessible information on all relevant texts within Holocaust- and concentration camp literature differed significantly, all texts could not be processed with equal intensity in the duration of the project. In addition to basic bibliographical data, the database contains information on most of the texts’ contents, history, and authorial biographies. In some cases, it was not possible to gather information on the text’s history or identify authors who either used pseudonyms or wrote anonymously. Nevertheless, all texts were at the very least catalogued with their respective bibliographical data.
The content summary explicitly presents the essential content, plot, and structure of the text and, where appropriate, contextualizes the work within literary studies. This includes information on the narrative approach, narrative style, use of tense, etc. The text’s annotated version is the sole foundation of the content summary, and first editions are preferred if available.
History of the Text
The history of the text attempts to describe the history of the respective text up until its publication, as well as later developments in the text’s history (editions, adaptations, translations, abridged versions, etc.). The history of the text is based primarily on information provided by the text itself and, when possible, archival sources from the author’s estate or the publisher’s archives, for instance. Reviews and similar reactions (Letter to the Editor, and the like) should give an indication of the text’s reception. To this end, important newspapers and journals were comprehensively analyzed.
Written in a style meant for a general readership, the author biographies present the central biographical information on the texts’ authors. They are based on the analysis of the relevant biographical works of reference, databases and scholarly literature, and especially on individual research in archives, the authors’ personal papers, additional documents related to the authors, as well as other collections.
The summary of the content, the history of the text, and the author biography only provide bracketed quotations from the running text. All further underlying sources are listed at the end.
Variations of Author Names
All known author names have been collected in their common variations, including birth and maiden names, insofar as research allowed. However, the bibliographical data only displays the names as they appear in the printed texts; search queries using variations of the names also lead to the respective texts. The drama "Kraft durch Feuer", for example, is attributed to the author "Rudolph, Albert" in the bibliographical database, and the author biography designates this name as a pseudonym of the author Rudolf Frank. Searching for the author “Frank, Rudolf” thus leads to the annotation of "Kraft durch Feuer".
Annotation of Places
All texts have been annotated geographically, meaning that all real textually relevant locations, the biographical information of the authors, and the place of publication are annotated and supplemented with geodata, thereby facilitating a simple search for and display of the respective locations via maps. The geographical information is also supplemented with time parameters in order to filter the search options and spatial annotations for specific time periods. This function enables, for instance, the search for texts on the concentration camp Buchenwald between 1940 and 1941. Regrettably, attributing a time reference to a location was not always possible, in some cases not at all, and in other cases was an approximation at best. Generally speaking, however, all camps, ghettos, and other places of detention have been annotated.
List of Publications
- GeoBib - Virtual Atlas and Online Bibliography of Early Holocaust Literature – Center for Media and Interactivity
- Research Project "GeoBib" – Research Center for the Study of Holocaust Literature
- BMBF-Project "GeoBib" – Herder Institute of Marburg
- Geisteswissenschaften digital (BMBF, 27.07.2012) (Digital Humanities)
- Ein digitaler Atlas der frühen Holocaustliteratur (Universität Gießen, 20.07.2012) (A Digital Atlas of Early Holocaust Literature)
- Übergabe der Bewilligung zum e-Humanities-Projekt GeoBib (Herder Institut) (Handing over the Approval of the e-Humanities Project GeoBib)
GeoBib was funded from July 2012 until June 2015 by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research as part of the eHumanities program. The funding reference is 01UG1238A-B. See also: Website of the Project Executing Orgainsation PT-DLR.