Contemporary history of Luxembourg

Paper and ink in the Soviet camp 188 in Tambov: capturing the camp life of Luxembourger conscripts

In the talk by Inna Ganschow, the camp experience in the Soviet Union will be treated as a consequence of the forced conscription, namely in its artistic processing. Secretly written diaries and letters of Luxembourg Wehrmacht soldiers or poems of deceased comrades learned by them by heart, they also reached their homeland.

The camp literature, which has its roots in the prison and prisoner of war literature, has a dimension of the documentary speaking about the Luxembourger conscripts in the Soviet detention 1943-1953, which as a text genre does not always fall under the term "literature" meaning "fiction".
Ego documents, as contemporary history researchers call them today, represent private, handwritten texts of a personal nature. The range of texts to be examined in the presentation ranges from the smuggled out notes and letters that their released comrades took with them to Luxembourg the diaries, speeches and self-made dictionaries to poetry, short stories and drawings, some of which were created in the camp and some immediately after returning from Tambov and other camps in the Soviet Union. Going through these few valuable pieces of paper from 1943 to 1946 and collecting them as a catalog of the genres, the presentation will show, how the biographies and the methods used by the writers of the texts managed to capture or to record the camp life.
The question that is in the foreground is the examination of the thesis of the Auschwitz concentration camp survivor Viktor Frankl, a psychiatrist and neurologist from Vienna, that giving meaning to life in the camp - logotherapy - can have a self-healing effect and increase the chances of survival. The written texts of the Luxemburgers in the Soviet camps in Russia as well as in East Germany or Poland are considered with this possible intention in mind that the writing helped to give meaning to the life, suffering and destiny of their authors. The focus of the talk lies on leitmotifs, images and topoi, which the authors use, consciously or unconsciously, to find the necessary spiritual support and (re)gain the feeling of being in control of their own lives.

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