Mending the Skin of Memory: Ethics and history in contemporary narratives

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The skin covering the memory of Auschwitz is tough. Sometimes, however, it bursts, and gives back its contents. In a dream, the will is powerless. And in these dreams, there I see myself again, me, yes me, just as I know I was: scarcely able to stand… pierced with cold, filthy, gaunt, and the pain is unbearable, so exactly the pain I suffered there, that I feel it again physically, I feel it again through my whole body, which becomes a block of pain, and I feel death seizing me, I feel myself die. Fortunately, in my anguish, I cry out. The cry awakens me, and I emerge from the nightmare, exhausted. It takes days for everything to return to normal, for memory to be ‘refilled” and for the skin of memory to mend itself. I become myself again, the one you know, who can speak to you of Auschwitz without showing any sign of distress or emotion. (Delbo 1985: 13–14)
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)339-348
Number of pages10
JournalRethinking History
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 01 Sept 1998


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