Since the Holocaust (or Shoah), writers have struggled to accurately portray the trauma and enormity of the Nazi genocide through writing. The horrors experienced and witnessed, as well as the atrocities committed, are often felt to be indescribable to one who has not in some way been affected by them. In the words of the late Elie Wiesel:
Language had been corrupted to the point that it had to be invented anew and purified. ... [The artist] has to remember the past, knowing all the while that what he has to say will never be told. What he hopes to transmit can never be transmitted. All he can possibly hope to achieve is to communicate the impossibility of communication.1
Yet, despite its ineffability, the Holocaust has been documented meticulously by those loath to see its memory fade into the shadows of human history. Many writers assert that the Holocaust cannot be described, and yet this vast corpus of literature consists of “yards of writing that attempt to overcome the inadequacy of language in representing moral enormity at the same time that they assert its presence.”2 As time moves on, we draw further and further away from the Shoah. With the births of the second, third, and now fourth generations of Holocaust survivors, literature has moved from memoirs into post-Holocaust works. With the new realm of post-Holocaust literature comes a variety of genres through which post-Holocaust writers seek to express themselves. In the past thirty years, the genre of the graphic novel has, despite its reputation as juvenile, embedded itself within the corpus of literature, reaching wider audiences and communicating the enormity of the Nazi genocide through the intersection of text and art.
Pflueger, Madilyn, "Visualizing the Unspeakable: Graphic Novels and the Holocaust" (2017). The Expositor: A Journal of Undergraduate Research in the Humanities. 14.
The Expositor: A Journal of Undergraduate Research in the Humanities