With the dwindling number of Kindertransportees alive today, the living memory of this rescue operation is being transformed into cultural memory, a trend noticeable in the publication of popular Kindertransport fiction since the beginning of the 21st century. This change in memory invites the following questions: how is the child refugee’s experience remembered, represented and reimagined in literature? And, consequently, what understanding of the Kindertransport is being transmitted to the following generations?
Drawing on understandings of genre, narratology and empathy, Stephanie Homer’s debut book examines works in English, German and Dutch from three literary genres: memoirs and autobiographical fiction by Kindertransportees and recent fiction by authors with no first-hand experience of the Kindertransport. The study exposes the various conventions, tensions and reader expectations attached to each genre and how these influence the author’s construction of the text and, in turn, the nature of the representation. This topical research engages in debates at the heart of current discussions on Holocaust and Kindertransport memory, such as the limits of representability, the 'unspeakability' of trauma, and issues of ethics and aesthetics, in the words on one reviewer ‘important and timely’.