The Jewish population of Europe was subjected to relentless persecution during the Second World War. What did this persecution sound like? A group at the University of Bern is analyzing this question by researching references to sound in diaries, contemporary reports and post-war reports from survivors. Dieckmann’s specific task is to look at post-war reports, where issues of narrative and memory play a major role.
When reading early post-war sources one is confronted with a fundamental tension: between finding words to express experiences and not finding words. What can be narrated and what cannot? The question of sound touches the space between the sayable and the unsayable. When a pain finds its tone, its expression or its metaphor, the barrier between trauma and narration might be transgressed. Therefore: In difference to the initial onset of the project, one cannot focus on what the persecution sounded like. Dieckmann's question is rather: What role does sound play in post-war sources? Which function does it have when trying to relate to experiences of Jews during the Shoah?
Dieckmann's work at the Institute builds on research conducted at the University of Bern. He continues to study sources and to work on single chapters of this study. Further information about the whole project may be found here.