The Cinematic Figure of an Interpreter in a Nazi Concentration Camp. The Case Study of  Marta Weiss in The Last Stage by Wanda Jakubowska

Małgorzata Tryuk

Abstrakt

Despite a massive amount of archival material on Nazi concentration camps, references to camp translators and interpreters are random, brief, and laconic. They usually consist of dry facts as related in ontological narratives of the Nazi regime victims. In the present paper, these records will be confronted with the portrayal of  Marta Weiss, a fictional camp interpreter presented in the 1948 docudrama Ostatni etap (The Last Stage) by the Polish film director Wanda Jakubowska, herself a former prisoner of the concentration camp in Birkenau.
To this day, The Last Stage remains a “definitive film about Auschwitz, a prototype for future Holocaust cinematic narratives”. The Last Stage is also called “the mother of all Holocaust films”, as it establishes several images easily discernible in later narratives on the Holocaust: realistic images of the camp; passionate moralistic  appeal; and clear divisions between the victims and the oppressors. At the same time, The Last Stage is considered to be an important work from the perspective of feminist studies, as it presents the life and death of female prisoners, femininity, labour and motherhood in the camp, women’s solidarity, and their resistance to the  oppressors. The Last Stage constitutes a unique quasi-documentary source for the analysis of the role of translators and interpreters working in extreme conditions. Moreover, the authenticity of the portrayal of Marta Weiss may not be contested, as it is based on the person of Mala Zimetbaum, a messenger and interpreter at  Auschwitz, killed in 1944 after a failed escape from the camp.
The paper presents the topic of interpreting and translating in a concentration camp from three different angles: film studies, feminist studies, and interpreting studies.

Słowa kluczowe: Camp interpreter, KL Auschwitz, feminist studies, film studies, translation and interpreting studies, Mala Zimetbaum
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