Survivor Testimony about Theatre in the Terezín Ghetto

A Longitudinal Case Study

  • Lisa Peschel University of York
Keywords: Holocaust, testimony, czechoslovakia, survivors, Jewish

Abstract

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.

Author Biography

Lisa Peschel, University of York

Lisa Peschel is a Senior Lecturer (Associate Professor) in the Department of Theatre, Film, Television and Interactive Media at the University of York, UK. Her articles on theatrical performance in the Terezín/Theresienstadt ghetto have appeared in journals in the US and the UK as well as Czech, German and Israeli publications. She was a coinvestigator on the £ 1.8 million project Performing the Jewish Archive funded by the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council (November 2014–June 2018), during which she reconstructed scripts from the ghetto for performance in the US, the UK, the Czech Republic, Australia and South Africa. Her anthology of rediscovered scripts, Performing Captivity, Performing Escape: Cabarets and Plays from the Terezín/Theresienstadt Ghetto, was published in 2014 (Czech- and German-language edition 2008).

E-mail: lisa.peschel@york.ac.uk

Published
2021-09-27
How to Cite
Peschel, Lisa. 2021. “Survivor Testimony about Theatre in the Terezín Ghetto”. S: I.M.O.N. Shoah: Intervention. Methods. Documentation. 8 (2), 38-57. https://doi.org/10.23777/SN.0221/ART_LPES01.