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Cohler, B.J. (2010). Life Writing in the Shadow of the Shoah: Fathers and Sons in the Memoirs of Elie Wiesel and Leon Weliczker Wells. Int. J. Appl. Psychoanal. Stud., 7(1):40-57.

(2010). International Journal of Applied Psychoanalytic Studies, 7(1):40-57

Life Writing in the Shadow of the Shoah: Fathers and Sons in the Memoirs of Elie Wiesel and Leon Weliczker Wells

Bertram J. Cohler

This paper contrasts the accounts of mourning and the resolution of grief in the aftermath of the Shoah as portrayed in the memoirs of two men Elie Wiesel (1928—) and Leon Weliczker Wells (1925—). Each life writer grew up in an Eastern European shtetl, a traditional community, in which he was immersed in Hasidic culture, and was incarcerated during adolescence in an extermination camp. This paper explores the impact of each life writer's experienced childhood relationship with his father in coping with his losses over the post-war period. Wells' memoir is a factual account of the perfidy of the regime that he witnessed as a member of a Sonderkommando or death brigade in the Janowska extermination camp and kept a journal, later used as evidence for the indictment of the regime at the Eichman trial. Wiesel's acclaimed text Night, and his memoirs, reflect his continuing guilt regarding his father's death while they were together in Auschwitz and Buchenwald.

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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