Survivor Testimony about Theatre in the Terezín Ghetto
A Longitudinal Case Study
Keywords:Holocaust, testimony, czechoslovakia, survivors, Jewish
Scholars in various areas of Holocaust studies have long debated whether and how to use survivor testimony as evidence regarding past events. The debate becomes even more fraught when we ask whether testimony can serve as evidence of past subjective attitudes and emotional states. In this case study, I examine four narratives by a single survivor of the Terezín/ Theresienstadt Ghetto, František Miška, narratives that may help answer the question: Why did prisoners choose to engage in theatrical performances in the ghetto? I will begin by examining Miška’s 2006 testimony in the context of contemporary public discourses, and then by comparing his testimonies from 2006, 1997, 1963, and 1948. Ultimately, I will conclude that, in a longitudinal study, the most appropriate method for testing reliability may vary depending on the period being examined. A careful reconstruction of contemporary discourse is indispensable in using testimonies from the 1940s and 1960s as evidence. This study, however, reveals that the reliability of later testimonies is more effectively established by comparing narratives by the same survivor across time.
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