My Shadow in Dachau

December 2014
1 black and white illustrations
314 pages
9x6 in
Studies in German Literature Linguistics and Culture
Library eBook
Camden House
BISAC POE001000, POE005030

My Shadow in Dachau

Poems by Victims and Survivors of the Concentration Camp

Edited by Dorothea Heiser, Stuart Taberner

Foreword by Walter Jens

Poems by and biographies of inmates of the Dachau Concentration Camp, testimonies to the persistence of the humanity and creativity of the individual in the face of extreme suffering.

The concentration camp at Dachau was the first established by the Nazis, opened shortly after Hitler came to power in 1933. It first held political prisoners, but later also forced laborers, Soviet POWs, Jews, and other "undesirables." More than 30,000 deaths were documented there, with many more unrecorded. In the midst of the horror, some inmates turned to poetry to provide comfort, to preserve their sense of humanity, or to document their experiences. Some were or would later become established poets; others were prominent politicians or theologians; still others were ordinary men and women.
This anthology contains 68 poems by 32 inmates of Dachau, in 10 different original languages and facing-page English translation, along with short biographies. A foreword by Walter Jens and an introduction by Dorothea Heiser from the original German edition are joined here by a foreword by Stuart Taberner of the University of Leeds. All the poems, having arisen in the experience or memory of extreme human suffering, are testimonies to the persistence of the humanity and creativity of the individual. They are also a warning not to forget the darkest chapter of history and a challenge to the future not to allow it to be repeated.

Dorothea Heiser holds an MA from the University of Freiburg. Stuart Taberner is Professor of Contemporary German Literature, Culture, and Society at the University of Leeds.

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Table of Contents

Foreword to the English-Language Edition by Stuart Taberner
Foreword by Walter Jens
Introduction by Dorothea Heiser
Camp Life: The Reality 1933-1945
Searching for the Purpose of Suffering: Despair - Accusation - Hope
Liberation: Dachau, April 29, 1945
The Years after 1945
Biographies of Other Inmates at Dachau Mentioned in the Anthology
Arrivals and Deaths in the Concentration Camp at Dachau
Dachau and Its External Camps
Sources and References for the Poems
Works Cited and Literature about Dachau
Recommended Further Reading In English
Notes on the Translators
Index of Authors, Their Biographies, and the Poems


[While] some of the poets may not have been "trained" or "literary" in any sense, the raw emotion captured in their verse rings clear across more than seventy years. . . . In tone and content, most of these poets are writing in a register somewhere between Whitman's "barbaric yawp" and the Gerard Manley Hopkins of the "terrible sonnets"-raw horror, disgust, shame, and confusion reign in this work from first to last. And yet, throughout, there is beauty in the horror. VALLUM MAGAZINE [James W. Wood]

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