Analysis Of The Book Still Alive: A Holocaust Girlhood Remembered By Ruth Kluger

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Ruth Kluger’s memoir, Still Alive: A Holocaust Girlhood Remembered, documents the author’s experience surviving the Holocaust as well as the shocking antisemitism that preceded it. In her blunt, straightforward manner, Kluger guides the reader through her childhood—a trying time in her life which she refuses to idealize—to her present situation in America. In addition to the historical accounts of the Holocaust, Kluger’s memoir reveals several dimensions of her relationship with Judaism and her Jewish heritage. Kluger’s perception of Judaism is influenced not only by her experience as a Jew during the Holocaust but also through her own personal view of what it means to be Jewish. Nazis perceived Judaism as strictly racial, regarding the religious aspect as irrelevant and attributing negative stereotypes about Jewish appearance and behavior to an inescapable, predetermined heritage. In the face of this oppression, it would not be beneficial for Kluger to blindly accept the standard label of Jew thrust upon her by the Nazis; instead, she gains autonomy and independence by defining her own Jewish identity based on an …show more content…
The animosity assaulting her from every angle since childhood, and the “hateful glances and encounters” she faced every day would have eaten away at the average person (22). Kluger admits that she felt trapped, suffocated by the hostility: “Vienna became my first prison,” she declares, “a city that banished you and then didn’t allow you to leave,” since, without money, one could not afford the papers required to emigrate (26). The never ending barrage of antisemitism began to undermine Kluger’s sense of self, and caused her to question what it meant to be Jewish. Rather than accepting the “Jewish self-contempt” expected of her, Kluger instead discovered “Jewish pride,” choosing to distinguish her own interpretation of Judaism rather than allowing the Nazis to declare it for her

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