Holocaust Aftermath and Memory in Brazil
Valente, Sarah da Rocha
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This dissertation identifies publications of post-Holocaust Jewish narratives as a new emerging field in Holocaust Studies in the largest country of Latin America. By examining eight memoirs written in Portuguese and published in Brazil in the first two decades of the twentieth-first century, I provide an analysis of how survivors recalled the traumatic events, and lived, operated, and experienced life in their new country. Chapter 1 provides the political background before the aftermath of the annihilation of European Jewry through a brief history of the changing political systems in Brazil from 1930 to 1945. Focusing on policies passed during the Vargas Era (1930 – 1945), I show the nativist, anti-Semitic, anti-immigrant views that were brewing in the cabinet of the Estado Novo. In Chapter 2, I introduce the writings of survivors Aleksander Laks, Arie Yaari, Henry Katina, Michael Kleinsinger, Michael Stivelman, Nanette Blitz Konig, Sabina Kustin, and Samuel Rozenberg. I identify the reoccurring features in these writings, which allows me to group them together as part of a new genre in Holocaust literature. I begin with the writers’ unique focus of providing the historical context of Jewish life in Europe prior to World War II. Then in Chapter 3, I focus on the survivors’ recalling of their experiences during the Holocaust by placing the eight memoirs into three categories: survival in hiding, in camps, and in death marches. In Chapter 4, I address the way in which the survivors recall the aftermath of World War II, and their immigration journeys to Brazil. I also address the way in which survivors deal with their memory in their writings, in terms of the legacy of the Holocaust in Brazil. The last chapter addresses the concern mentioned in the memoirs about Nazi presence in Brazil. I single out a a group of permanent residents, as well as frequent visitors, who formed a network of former high-ranking Nazi officials and collaborators who arrived in Brazil from the late 1940s to the early 1970s. Using newspapers reports, Brazilian governmental documents, CIA reports, and immigration registration cards, my dissertation identifies the activities of a handful of former-Nazi war criminals. Ultimately, this dissertation sheds new light on Jewish narratives created in Brazil for a Brazilian audience that is not familiar with the history of the Holocaust, and it analyzes questions of memory and legacy in the aftermath of the Holocaust.