|Hilda Stern Cohen’s collected poetry and prose have been published in the
original German. An English-language publication will be published in September
2008 by Dryad
Press under the title Words that Burn Within Me: Faith, Values, Survival.
More at: www.DryadPress.com
Genagelt ist meine Zunge: Poetry and Prose by a Holocaust Survivor
In 1997, following the death of his wife of almost 50 years, Dr. Werner Cohen discovered a series of tattered notebooks at the bottom of a drawer in their home in Baltimore, Maryland. The notebooks contained about 150 poems and a series of prose texts in German that his wife, Hilda Stern Cohen, had never shared with him. Page by page, he transcribed the notebooks, discovering a talented writer and gaining new insights into his wife’s experience as a child in Germany and as a young woman in the Lodz Ghetto and Auschwitz.
Seeking a way to bring Hilda Stern Cohen’s work to the attention of the public, Werner Cohen, himself born in Essen, Germany, approached the Goethe-Institut/German Cultural Center in Washington, DC, which quickly recognized the remarkable literary quality of the work as well as its historical importance. Next came a contact to the Research Center for Holocaust Literature at the University of Giessen, near the small village of Nieder-Ohmen, today a part of the township of Mücke in the German state of Hesse where Hilda Stern was born in 1924. Thanks to this set of circumstances, these texts, which open windows on a young German-Jewish woman’s struggle to heal the wounds inflicted by the Nazis, have now been published.
In 1945, Hilda Stern arrived as a refugee in Upper Austria, where she waited to emigrate to the United States. The 21-year-old German-Jewish woman had lost her parents and grandparents, but survived the Lodz Ghetto and Auschwitz. During the months that Hilda waited in the lakeside resort towns of Gmunden and Kammer-Schörfling, Austria for her visa for America, she wrote down poems and thoughts in whatever notebooks she could find: things she had written earlier as well as new poems that expressed her feelings about life in the neither-here-nor-there of the Displaced Persons facilities. Once in the US, Hilda continued writing, but then largely gave it up, along with her native German, as part of her adjustment to a new life.
The book’s title is borrowed from a poem in which Hilda Stern Cohen bitterly
laments how her own sense of self is tied to a language and culture that sought
to destroy her. The publication brings a newly discovered author to the
attention of the public, enriches the German literary tradition, and enhances
the German-Jewish dialogue.
Genagelt ist meine Zunge: Gedichte und Prosa einer Holocaust-Überlebenden
Edited by Erwin Leibfried and Sascha Feuchert, Research Center for Holocaust Literature, Institute for Modern German Literature, Justus-Liebig University, Giessen, Germany and William Gilcher, Goethe-Institut Washington, DC, with support from the Ernst Ludwig Chambré Foundation, Lich, Germany. With a foreword by Werner V. Cohen and an epilogue on the history of Jewish Life in Upper Hesse by Klaus Konrad-Tromsdorf.
Genagelt ist meine Zunge is volume 2 in the "Memento" series published by Bergauf-Verlag, Frankfurt/Main. The publication is a joint project of the Arbeitsstelle für Holocaustliteratur and Goethe-Institut Washington, DC., in cooperation with Werner V. Cohen, Baltimore, Maryland.
168 pages, Softbound, 21 x 30 cm.
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