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Personal Historical Narrative Shaping the Past and the Present

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image of European Journal of Jewish Studies

The twentieth century proved to be a fateful era for the majority of European Jewry, who experienced prosperity and emancipation, persecution and destruction, and rehabilitation in their newly founded state or in the West. Based on several research projects, the present essay examines the narrative responses of formerly Austro-Hungarian Jews (presently Israelis and Hungarians) to these events and processes. In addition to telling their personal experiences, some of them also wish to confront generally accepted views and images of their past lives and communities in the inter-war period and—more acutely—in WWII and the Holocaust. The essay reads their contentions on the background of historical and literary-cultural research and vice-versa, thus enabling these narrators to voice disagreements and grievances that are otherwise rarely heard. The essay likewise highlights the function of personal narrative, as part of folkloric repertoire, and its study in enriching research and public awareness with less known and exposed people and experiences.


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