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Impossible Holocaust Metaphors: The Muselmann, Sharon Oster Oct 2014

Impossible Holocaust Metaphors: The Muselmann, Sharon Oster

Our House Articles, Posters, and Presentations

This article challenges the widespread scholarly assumption that the term “Muselmann,” ubiquitous in Holocaust survivor accounts, denotes a fixed, silent, concentration camp “type” of prisoner who, nearest to death, was fated to die. Rather, based on evidence from a range of oral testimonies, and firsthand accounts, I show that by contrast, Muselmänner did not enter into a new ontological category or a different species. Rather, “Muselmannhood” was, surprisingly, a temporary condition for many who claimed to have been Muselmänner and yet survived. This implies that they were similar to other prisoners in kind, differing rather in degree, along a broad ...