Tailoring Identities: Displacement in the Self-Portrayals of Jewish Women Escaping to Albania

Agata Rogoś

This article aims to analyze the works of Jewish women autobiographers who wrote about the Holocaust in the context of Albanian cultural tradition. My research appears in the framework of the wider Holocaust women’s literature and its strong performance in collective memory studies. Another very important element of these narratives is the reflection on representations of war from a female perspective.
The article focuses on the notion of identity displacement of Jewish women escaping to Albania during World War II and acts of crypto-conversion into the Muslim or Catholic religions. Accordingly, I will concentrate on two autobiographies of Jewish women escaping to Albania: Jutta Neumann and Irene Grünbaum.
These autobiographies are introduced to the reader through an approach of self-portrayal, connecting the issues to the traumatic impact of war and its representations, which serve as a process to conceptualize memory and trauma. One aim here is to show how during World War II in Albania women writers explored the personal and historical impact of these events in autobiographical writings.
The two self-portrayals of Jewish women survivors escaping to Albania presented here emphasize a feminine aspect through proclamations of resistance. Despite the obstacles and difficulties caused by the traditional Albanian social structure and the (dis)placement of the Other, the analyzed narratives are infused with reflections of autobiographers concerning the world immersed in a crisis.
Słowa kluczowe: Albania, Jewish women, identity, Holocaust autobiographies, resistance