Literature and Culture

Eszter Balogh

Holocaust Trauma and the Trauma of Homelessness of Women

Hungarian literary canon has forgotten the Holocaust-novels written by women as early as in the 1960s, in the period of political oppression when the Holocaust was a taboo subject. I will examine how these novels show the gender aspects of Holocaust trauma: how women coped with the absolute lack of safety and security, and how they tried to satisfy at least their basic needs, and what those needs were, and how they kept their identity and womanhood. Boris Palotai’s two novels A madarak elhallgatnak (1962), and A férfi (1964), and Mária Ember’s novel, Hajtűkanyar (1974) search for options to survive the trauma of being deported, the trauma of returning home from a concentration camp, and the trauma of experiencing the reactions of bystanders. In the second stage of my research I will compare the trauma of Holocaust experience and the trauma of homeless women. I am interested in how having been pushed out of society changes personalities, and restructures the traditional gender roles of traumatized women. An important point of the research is the quest for literary texts of homelessness-experienced women.

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