Witnessing and Visualizing Trauma. Peter Weiss, Alexander Kluge and Claude Lanzmann Representing the Shoah

Raul Calzoni


This article deals with the ethical and aesthetical implications of witnessing, visualizing and representing the Shoah in German literature of the 1960s. In order to analyse the limits of representation of such an individual and collective traumatic event, the text focuses on Peter Weiss’s theatrical production (The Investigation) and on Alexander Kluge’s literature and film (Lebensläufe and Abschied von gestern). Actually, the artistic outputs of these authors made it possible, on the one hand, to “perform” at the same time collective and individual memories of both the victims and the murders of the Shoah. On the other hand, they paved the way for one of the most telling visual representation of the Holocaust: Claude Lanzmann’s Shoah (1985). As it is argued in the article this was possible by way of “montage”, i.e. thanks to an aesthetic artefact that, eventually when Claude Lanzmann shot his most important film, forced the limits of realism and documentarism in the visualization of the Holocaust.


Shoah; Witness; Montage; Literature; Film

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.12869/TM2015-1-02


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