Student/Judaic Studies Program
Sandra S. Williams
University of Central Florida
Student/Judaic Studies Program
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The subject of this paper concerns itself with Ka-tzetnik's use of paradox. Before paradox can be discussed in terms of Ka-tzetnik's literature, it is appropriate that paradox be defined for the purpose of understanding its use and expression in the literature that will be discussed.
One of the difficulties in defining paradox is that it is quite often so mixed with irony, that it becomes difficult to separate the two, since they intertwine upon each other. A common definition of paradox is that "In paradox, as in all metaphor, something is declared to be what it manifestly is not."1 But is this not also true of irony? The distinction is not clear. Rosalie Colie, who has written extensively concerning paradox, states that "Paradoxes are puzzles or riddles in logic that can be profoundly ironic."2 According to the Random House College Dictionary, paradox is defined as 1) a statement or proposition seemingly self-contradictory or absurd, but in reality expressing a possible truth; 2) any person, thing, or situation exhibiting an apparently contradictory nature. On the other hand, Random House defines irony as 1) a figure of speech that is often the direct opposite of the intended meaning; 2) in literature, a technique of indicating as through character or plot development, an intention of attitude opposite to that which is actually or ostensibly stated. One can see from these definitions that both paradox and irony can involve statements, situations, and characters that are contradictory.
Another element common to both irony and paradox is that they both appeal to the intellect. They both cause the audience to be incited and to wonder, but it is "paradox that dazzles by it's mental gymnastics."3 It is filled with double meanings, deceptions, and ironies. Rosalie Colie states that "the one element common to all paradox is their exploitation of the fact of relative or competing value systems. The paradox is always somehow involved in challenging some orthodoxy. The paradox is oblique criticism of absolute judgment or absolute convention."
From these definitions it would seem that paradox and irony are more than just related, but are many times co-dependent. It would seem they both can involve statements, figures of speech, and situations that are contradictory. The subtle difference between the two is that paradox involves possible hidden truths in it's contradiction. The outcome is not what one would expect, and in the outcome is revealed an otherwise hidden truth. The outcome of irony, on the other hand, although it is unexpected, does not necessarily involve hidden truths.
I have chosen to concentrate on paradox over irony because of these subtle differences involving truth. This becomes important when dealing with literature that is portraying events that are known to be true. This paper will examine Ka-tzetnik's use of paradox as an effective literary device in portraying the reality of the holocaust. Three of his most noted writings will be examined: House of Dolls, Star Eternal, and Atrocity. Most of his use of paradoxes involve the paradoxical nature of life and death; that death becomes life and life becomes death. These along with others will be discussed.
Ka-tzetnik based this book on a diary kept by a young Jewish girl who was captured in Poland when she was fourteen years old and subjected to enforced prostitution in a Nazi labor camp. Daniella Preleshnik, the protagonist, was in reality, Ka-tzetnik's sister. The events portrayed involve her life in the little polish town of Kongressia, in the ghetto, and finally in a women's labor camp...."Camp Labor Via Joy."
Paradox abounds in House of Dolls. In the opening pages, Daniella is in the rag room taking clothes apart to be recycled. There is a strange feeling in the air -- a feeling that all is not well; strange feelings that both life and death are apparent in the clothes. Page 17: "A strange fear now hovers over the rag room. Everyone feels it. Suddenly the jacket linings begin to exude human body heat; hands fill out the sleeves; necks sprout from all collars; stomachs and legs materialize in all the trousers. Live humans fill the clothes."4 The people in the rag room don't yet know the truth, but there is a strange and paradoxical feeling about these clothes; a feeling that life and death are living together in the clothes. Ka-tzetnik very skillfully creates the feeling and the mood of the room: "Eyes are lowered to the seam and the strange garment reflects back at them their own doom."
On pages 44 & 45, a boy and girl push a baby carriage. In it is an old man holding a soup pot. A baby carriage which normally supports new life....beginning life, is now supporting old life. Here the children are caring for the old. Adults normally care for children.
On pages 51 & 52, the deportation trains are leaving the ghetto as a woman hides with her children in the ground. "As the trains start pulling out, she clapped her hands and murmured fervently, 'Praise the Lord, they're finally being taken! Praise the Lord.' In the hole the children lay curled up like worms." The paradox here is heart wrenching. The sight of the others condemned and leaving means life for herself and her children. The reader feels the paradox. It is awful that this woman should be glad the train is leaving; that those on board will die. But at the same time, the woman's children are "curled up like worms" in a hole. Does not each life have it's own value? If faced with the same situation, do we know what each one of us would do?
Page 58: In the shoe shop attic there is a canteen that carries "roast goose, cheese cake, beer, and potassium cyanide. The dearest item is the cyanide." Here one sees the paradox: foods that are longed for, that can bring strength and life when people are starving, are not the dearest items. The dearest item is the cyanide. Deep down they know that death by cyanide is preferable to any death the Germans can inflict.
Page 58 & 59 depict yet another paradox. As people are being deported from the ghetto, they leave behind their belongings to their impoverished relatives. Page 59: "At the last moment of their lives, destitute cobblers have suddenly become tycoons."
On page 88, Harry, who is Daniella's brother, is in a labor camp. He studied medicine before the war, but did not graduate. The irony is that there are plenty of physicians interned with him, but he was the one chosen to be camp physician. From Shivitti, we know that Harry is really Ka-tzetnik himself. The clinic is a facade. The room is described on page 89 as "two times nothing." It has a bed, but it is useless because its a crib. But it is "white and beautiful." There are bottles of medicines, but the labels are all in Latin and the bottles are empty. There are surgical instruments arranged for show. The whole clinic is a facade. It is the Camp Commander's pet play thing. The paradox is that "it's prohibited to be sick in the camp. That is why the Commander set up the sick bay; so everybody should be healthy." The sick bay is useless. It is good for nothing. Patients can't lie down; no one can read the medicines; most are empty containers. Harry is "an item of the sick bay" (page 202).
Ka-tzetnik describes the paradox of the non-Jews of Poland. Pages 110: "The Poles never let up chanting...'the Jews are selling our motherland to the enemy.' But no sooner did the Germans come in than these same rabid patriots turned overnight into patriots professing allegiance to Germany."
There is yet another example of paradox involving non-Jews. Daniella begs for mercy from a Polish girl from a farm after she escaped the massacre of her school mates in the market place. The Polish girl refuses to help her. Page 116: "Outside the cottage window, over a burning lamp, hung an icon of the Holy Mother." The family are Christian. They are religious. They pray for mercy, but give no mercy.
On page 177, Ka-tzetnik writes of the image of the "tormented Jew of Nazareth." His image was placed in Polish windows to indicate that here lives a non-Jew. It is both paradoxical and ironical that it is a Jew that non-Jews use as a symbol to the Nazi's that they are non-Jews, and thus worthy of life.
"Camp Labor Via Joy" -- the very name of the camp is a paradox. It certainly is not joy for the women. For them it is immeasurable suffering, pain, torture, and death. When a new transport of girls is brought in (page 136-137), "the other prisoners regard the newcomers with open hostility. For always with the arrival of a new transport, a selektion takes place. The veterans look upon the newcomers as their death warrant." The newcomers arrive in relatively better condition. The veterans see the newcomers as their executioners and the cycle of life and death begins all over again.
There is a paradox in the health condition of the women. The priority being the tools for work and not human beings. Page 136: "Their bodies swarm with lice and grime, but Hentschel the Moon, the German overseer, takes great pains before work starts, to see that in the handle joint of the shovel, there isn't -- Oh dear no! -- a speck of dust." Page 137: The old woman Rena Zeidner "holds the shovel in a fast embrace, as a lover." That shovel means her life, but it can also mean her death. Throughout Ka-tzetnik's literature, he writes of how tools of work were used as instruments of beatings and death.
Ka-tzetnik writes about Tedek, who was a friend and who had been in love with Daniella. There is a special bond between them because they both love Daniella. Tedek was a Zionist youth, who had been involved in the ghetto resistance and was captured. Now Tedek is in camp with Harry and he is dying. Harry, as his friend and camp physician, is with him as death surrounds him. He looks into his friend's eyes and writes, "He had never seen Tedek with such live eyes here in the camp. The borderline between life and death was at once completely obliterated" (page 148). On page 149 he writes, "An indomitable will now looked out of Tedek's eyes -- mettle manliness, determination." Page 150: "Die so others may live. Who knows what kind of way you are now paving for us?" Here is an allusion to the birth of the State of Israel. The paradox is that out of his death and the death of millions, would come life.
The name "Camp Labor Via Joy" must be dealt with as to the truth of the real joy and labor of the camp. Before being admitted to this division, all the women were sterilized (page 157). Here when a girl was flogged, she was not permitted to return. She was transported to the crematorium. Bodies had to be in perfect condition -- undamaged. If a venereal disease was contracted, it meant death. Page 160: "Every day at 2:00, German soldiers on their way to the Russian front come from the nearby transit depots to entertain themselves with the girls of the Doll House. The girls had to put their all into the satisfaction of their esteemed guests. If such a guest was not satisfied with the enjoyment, he had only to report it on leaving, and give the girls breast number. After three such reports, the girl was automatically doomed. She hadn't fully appreciated the great honor bestowed upon her. She had made light of a German warrior."
Ka-tzetnik further develops the "Camp Labor Via Joy" paradox. On page 167 her life becomes her bed. "Her life now folds itself into the dark narrow bed chest. They become one -- the girl and the bed. One number identifies them both." Her life is her smile. Page 168: "Soon they will be called upon to smile. The smile is not optional. The smile attests to the girl's attitude of Enjoyment. Her life depends upon the smile. Soon they will be called upon to be happy. The noble German guests haven't come here to look at sad eyes. He has come to enjoy; to get his bucket full of joy." The paradox of "Camp Labor Via Joy" is further enhanced on page 178 with images of the girls sitting trembling on their beds waiting for "enjoyment" to start. Clearly for the women this was not joy, but terror and immense suffering.
Perhaps the ultimate paradox used by Ka-tzetnik in House of Dolls is Tzivia of Chebin, an orthodox girl who is beaten to death because of her refusal to "enjoy" "enjoyment." Tzivia is being led out to the execution square to be beaten to death. Page 187: "It was obvious she had not learned anything; hadn't become wiser here in the Doll House, and her innocence hadn't been diminished one bit. As though she were not being led now, naked from Elsa's (the overseer) chamber, but was stepping thus directly from the Daughter's of Jacob Night School in Chebin. Her petite cameo body radiated chasteness and purity not touched. Her stubborn infantile innocence shielded her as a tough shell around the kernel of a nut." Here is a girl who had been in enforced prostitution, yet her virtue, her dignity, her chasteness, her innocence were totally intact despite every effort to morally destroy her. The paradox is further developed with the analogy of the shield that covers the kernel of a nut. Her innocence and her purity are an outer shield that protects her incredible strength and courage. Even in death, the purity, dignity, and strength of this girl cannot be diminished or taken from her.
The story ends with Daniella committing suicide after Harry sees her at a German orgy. The sentry who shot her, will get three days furlough. He is rewarded for his good deed. Page 223: "The day strode toward the camp, passing over the road, it stubbed it's foot against a riddled body. It glimpsed down and went on." The reader feels the incongruity. How can this be that life goes on when there is so much death. The supreme element in the sky goes on just as it has every day before and since, and nothing has changed.
Most paradoxes in literature appear in sophisticated forms. They are usually used as "intellectual ploys written for learned and experienced audiences of men and women in the know, who could be expected to understand the parodoxist's learned skill and to admire the skill demonstrated in the paradoxes themselves."6 Ka-tzetnik's language and style differ from this norm. Star Eternal can be described best as simple and direct with an appeal to all audiences, not just "men and women in the know." In simple language and in scenes that are loosely connected, he composes the story. The style of Star Eternal is different also from the other two pieces of literature discussed in this paper. It is full of jerks and twists. One senses in this particular piece of literature, his struggle to commit to words, his experiences. On page 41 he outright states his difficulty: "Words are no more."7 The world of Auschwitz lies as much outside of speech as it does reason.
There is a sense of incongruity between life and death and Ka-tzetnik is a master at portraying these contradictory concepts -- that death becomes life and life becomes death. Page 22: "Dig and stay alive"; page 23: "As long as your hands keep digging, you live...." They are digging their own graves with their own hands. They are going to die, but as long as they dig, they live. Page 29 describes Operation Old People: "They know: their going spells life for those left behind in the ghetto, the younger ones, their children." Concepts of life and death intermingle -- the death of the old people means life for the young. And life for the young means death for the old.
There is the paradox of a people rich in tradition and devotion to God; a cultured peace-loving people not known for war -- that this should happen to them. Page 37: "We are the last transportees of the last ghetto. How did it come to pass that down this road went the flower and splendor of a whole nation?" Death is becoming so much a part of life that Ka-tzetnik writes on page 38: "To die is not heroic. The most heroic deed now is to live."
Auschwitz itself is a paradox. Of those who remain alive in Auschwitz, Ka-tzetnik describes a life (if it can be called such) of the living dead. Page 38: "Auschwitz: the way of escaping from death that leads to a death undreamed of by death itself." When death is escaped by those not selected for crematorium, the paradox is that this is actually an existence so horrifying it can not be called life. The heart still beats, the lungs still exchange oxygen, but all around is death. Life and death coexist. Page 47: "They do not understand that truly happy were those who got, not water out of the sprinklers, but Zyklon cans jetting blue gas into their lungs instead." On page 49 Ka-tzetnik writes of men half alive, half dead. He calls them the "shadow men." On page 72 he further describes then as "Bones butting against bones. They're Alive! Alive." On page 100, Ka-tzetnik ponders the paradox of these men: "How can a living man whom you know, stand there on the highway, look at you with open eyes and at the same time be dead?"
In Auschwitz, death is actually preferable to life. On page 83, life chooses death: "all eyes follow him. He staggers the entire length of the row of dead. No place for him here. So he drags himself still further, to the end of the row, slumps down to the earth like a weary wanderer returned to the restful lap of this home. He stretches out on his back, setting his body into line with the row of dead, face up to the Auschwitz sky and is extinguished." The scene is incredible -- death is called "restful," something longed for by the "weary wanderer." Yet when facing the crematorium, Auschwitz becomes life. Page 91: "The assembly ground suddenly becomes dear to you; genial and warm as home. This monstrous assembly ground, where you suffered such agonies of torture, you no longer recognize it. Everything is now dear to you. This is home now, your world. Here you are alive." To further illustrate the incongruity and paradox of Auschwitz, Ka-tzetnik describes the mood in the hutches (page 101) as "soft as a mother's lap." The air in the places vacated by those now missing "wraps around you like a warm blanket."
The conversation between Ferber and the Rabbi of Shilev on page 108 epitomizes Star Eternal and the paradox and irony of the Holocaust. Ferber asks the Rabbi of Shilev "for whose sake does Jacob wrestle with the angel, if his children did not cross the river, but stayed here in the blackness of night." What is the point of Jacob wrestling with the angel? What is the point of having a Jewish people at all if they are going to be annihilated? The Rabbi answers "From the very blackness of this night, Jacob will bring forth the name Israel. Before that the morning star will not rise. Light of full understanding flashed within Ferber; his brothers there, in the land of Israel! Revelation bared itself to him. For a split second only. Round about him all was distillate, pure. No longer did he feel himself in his own skeleton. At that moment he was utterly oblivious to his body's existence. The Rabbi's eyes were like two open gates." The irony and the paradox here are powerful. It is ironic that Hitler, with his murderous machine in motion, set out to annihilate the Jewish people because he believed they were a major cause of Europe's problem, but in his attempt to destroy the Jewish race, he succeeded indirectly in fostering the founding of the Jewish State. The paradox is who would have thought that in less than a decade after Hitler's ovens were blazing and total death to the Jews seemed entirely possible, that an independent "Jewish" State would be born; that out of the ashes of Auschwitz would be born life for the Jewish people; a home; a sovereign nation for the first time in two thousand years. The Jewish Star does indeed seem to be eternal.
Atrocity is the story of Moni, a small boy eleven years old when he came to Auschwitz. Shivitti authenticates that Moni was actually Ka-tzetnik's brother. Because of his eyes, Moni becomes a "piepel" -- a child chosen by the Block Chiefs for their sexual orgies. Atrocity is the story of a child who clings to memories of his mother and father to maintain his sanity. He is witness to unspeakable horror. Although Atrocity is written as a novel, the events portrayed are true.
In Auschwitz, the men in authority were previously in prison serving life sentences. They were chosen for their talents in perversion and crime. Ludwig Tiene, the child murderer, was one such person. He actually existed. Atrocity is a story that is not easily forgotten. Long after it is read it haunts the reader with images of horror and cruelty so unspeakable they defy description.
As in Ka-tzetnik's other writings, Atrocity abounds with paradoxes that involve concepts of life and death. On page 59, an ex-piepel is in Franzyl's (the Block Chief) cubicle: "As soon as they stop that laughing in the cubicle, they will probably start handing out the soup from the barrels."8 The piepel's death means soup, and soup means life. The image is sadistic and cruel. There is incongruity -- death and life dwell together in the cubicle. As a piepel Moni can have all the bread, soup, and sausage he wants. But the paradox is that he can't eat. He can't stand the site of food. Page 69: "He knows it is suicide." In the end he loses his position as piepel because the Block Chiefs like the children fat. Page 114: but "after such a night in a Block Chief's cubicle, where am I supposed to get the appetite for food." Page 86: "The piepels can't imagine that the same boots they polish for all their worth will suddenly one night break their necks." It was common practice of the Block Chiefs to murder an old piepel. They would lay him on the floor, put their cane across his neck, then stand on either end of the cane and "see-saw." Page 92 reveals one of Ka-tzetnik's most graphic images of life and death fusing. There are images of the "shadow men" from Star Eternal. Moni crawls into a hutch among the musslemen to hide from the wrath of the Block Chief. "They receive him the way the pile behind the block receives a skeleton just dumped by the block orderlies." These are the living dead -- the paradox of human life in Auschwitz that Ka-tzetnik portrays so well.
This paradox of life and death is further enhanced by heartbreaking images of Moni longing for his parents. Page 93: "Moni knows that if some Block Chief were to tell him 'Moni, I'll fix it so you can come with me to the sauna (crematorium) and when we pass the women's camp, you can take a look at your Ma through the barbed wire, he would jump right into bed with that Block Chief without a second thought about the piepel whose death this would bring about." Moni knows that the Block Chief has promised this to his rival, Lolek, as well. And although he knows that Lolek has replaced him as Piepel, he can't hate him for wanting what he himself wants. Page 93: "Lolek wants to see his mother at least one more time in his life." The paradox is extremely sad. Although Lolek can cause his death, he can't hate him, because he also wants his mother and he also wants to live. Page 94: "Lolek wants to live like Moni and it's this going from block chief to block chief that keeps him alive. So how can he hold that against him? He wants to live and so does Lolek."
Ka-tzetnik writes truthfully about events and life in Auschwitz. He writes of fellow Jews who were collaborators, who actually helped the Nazi's. One such person was the chief orderly of Block 10 -- the son of the Zionist leader, Fruchtenbaum. Ka-tzetnik develops Fruchtenbaum's character at length. He is portrayed as cruel and sadistic and without mercy. Page 75 tells of him beating a fellow Jew who had just arrived on a transport. The new arrival was in awe of him and very excited to see him because he knew his father, the great Zionist leader. "What drives Fruchtenbaum to seek to drown his name in a sea of blood?" "He is to be called Herr Chief Orderly -- that and only that. Almost every new transport to Auschwitz brings several who are dazzled by the name Fruchtenbaum and they are drawn to him like flies to sweet poison. From each transport Fruchtenbaum selects a victim as an example to the rest." The paradox is incredible. Fruchtenbaum is himself eligible for the crematorium by virtue of the simple fact that he is Jewish, yet he is vicious, cruel, and sadistic toward his fellow Jews.
Chapters later, Ferber, who also appears as a character in Star Eternal, muses about Fruchtenbaum's father. Page 172: "Surely he will wear sack-cloth and ashes the rest of his life -- the crematorium ashes of the Jews his son had murdered before their turn. Especially since they were murdered because they mentioned his father's name. How many Jews might still be alive if Chief Orderly Fruchtenbaum's father had been a shop keeper, a shoe maker, a synagogue sexton? Who knows how many Jews would still be alive if Fruchtenbaum the Zionist leader had been childless?" It is incredibly ironic and paradoxical that Fruchtenbaum's father who stood for the very right of existence of the Jewish people, should have a son who so hated his own people that he would help with their annihilation. Ka-tzetnik further develops Fruchtenbaum's character by describing the events of Yom Kippur on page 206: "Fruchtenbaum sits with the Poles. They are unpacking cartons of food sent them from home. Out of the cartons they pull large red apples, home baked goods. Fruchtenbaum is having the time of his life. He lavishes fawning smiles on them and they all treat him to a bit of something." This is going on in a block where they are surrounded by hundreds of starving musslemen. It is unbelievable that Fruchtenbaum should behave in such a way considering who he is and his background.
The paradox for Fruchtenbaum is that (page 167) "when there is a shortage of fresh crematorium fodder, the Germans do not mind taking even high-ranking Jewish Functioners. Just so the bones are Jewish. No matter if the bones are covered with flesh, even rolls of flesh, no matter how loyally and assiduously they served the Germans, more loyally and assiduously even than the non-Jews -- the crematorium is always at their service. It is only a matter of time and turn."
Paradox is used to portray images of stripped identity and stripped humanity. On page 205 it's Yom Kippur: "No holidays anymore -- here there isn't even Yom Kippur anymore. Here a man forgets altogether that he is a Jew. That's something: in Auschwitz among nothing but Jews, you forget you are a Jew."
There are images of those waiting in line for the crematorium. In the world of Auschwitz, bread is not only food, it is money to buy clothes to keep warm. Page 259: "In the end, they give up their clothes realizing if they had eaten their bread, they would now not be standing in line." Hayim-Idl, a friend of Moni's and also a friend of Daniella's in House of Dolls, is pulled out of line on his way to the crematorium. Page 265: "He does not know whether he is dying or being born." He is pulled out because he lied and said he was an engraver. Here again one sees life and death mixing.
Some of the atrocities that very clearly involve paradox, especially those associated with Moni and the other piepels, are so unspeakable that I have chosen not to include them in this paper. On pages 285-286, Moni's life comes to an end because he steals a turnip. He is severely beaten and hovering near death. While he still has strength in him, he throws himself on the barbed wire. Even in the death of Moni, paradox abounds. Page 286: "Robert, the most brutal Block Chief of them all, could not contain his admiration. 'Bravo, old whore' he cried out as though to cheer him on, 'Bravo.'" Moni is probably, at the most, 13 at his death. "Vatzek, kapo of the potato peelery, swallowed the incredible scene. For the first time in the Katzet, he felt tears warm in his eyes." The paradox is that it was Vatzek who was responsible for his death. It was Vatzek who had beaten him. The concluding paragraph reads: "The Auschwitz sky leaned over his eyelashes. The earth gathered him in like a mother cradling her little one to sleep. Hush..." The reader feels the paradox of not knowing which is better. That a young life that fought so valiantly is gone, but at the same time in death his torment is finally over and he is at peace? The reader is left pondering was his existence life or wasn't it?
As a survivor of two years in Auschwitz, Ka-tzetnik writes as only a survivor can...from inside the experience. His writings are filled with images drown from his own realms of experience which are shared temporarily by author and reader. The reader becomes temporarily part of his experience. Why would a very gifted writer such as Ka-tzetnik choose to write of such horrific events, and thus cause himself each time to relive the nightmare of the Holocaust? Perhaps Ka-tzetnik says it best in Shivitti: "I vowed to them in Auschwitz as I stood near their ashes behind the crematorium, that I wouldn't stop telling their story till my last breath."9
But thirty years after leaving Auschwitz, Ka-tzetnik found the nightmare continued. Nightly, he continued to have terrifying dreams. The eyes of those now gone continued to haunt him. In 1976 he went for help from a Dutch psychiatrist, Professor Bastiaans, who specialized in the treatment of "Concentration Camp Syndrome." The treatment involved reliving the death camp experiences through the use of LSD under medical supervision.
While under the effects of the hallucagen, tapes were made of his conversations with his doctor. The essence of his book Shivitti are these taped conversations. From reading Shivitti one realizes that the characters of Ka-tzetnik's "novels" were real people. They are his brother, his sister, his friends, his community, and himself. Shivitti also authenticates that most of the situations portrayed in his writings were in fact real. It is because of this authentic documentation that Shivitti served as an invaluable resource for supplying background information to the events and characters portrayed in the literature discussed in this paper.
When one considers the event of the Holocaust itself, perhaps the most catastrophic event in human history, and the subsequent birth of the State of Israel less than ten years later, it is paradox that life was born from the death of millions. And it seems appropriate that because life and death did indeed fuse and intermingle, that paradox would be a most effective literary tool to be used in the writing of Holocaust literature.
Ka-tzetnik very effectively uses paradox to harmonize impossibilities and radical contradictions. He very skillfully uses this literary device to illustrate the plurality of human perception, while deepening our awareness of how life and death, though radically different, can coexist. His paradoxes mediate ideas which at first glance, do not seem to fit. They generate thought and understanding while stimulating further questions. Because of its conscious blurring of distinction, paradox is indeed an ideal literary device for presenting literature dealing with the Holocaust.
Copyright © 1993, Sandra S. Williams, All Rights Reserved
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