Narrating the Danube Swabian Identity and Experience from Women's Perspective
Gendered Memories of a Culture in Transition
Keywords:Danube Swabians, expulsion, genocide, victimhood, multidirectional memory
This article uses selected memoirs by American women who came from the Danube Swabian minority in present-day Hungary and Serbia (former Yugoslavia). The entire ethnic group was expelled from the region at the end of World War II. All five memoirs were published in the new millennium. This article examines how the narratives frame memories of a prewar happy childhood from young women’s perspective. The childhood memories are presented in stark contrast to the authors’ postwar experiences of expulsion, sexual violence, genocide, flight, and the eventual building of a new life in a new country. All narratives document the brutality with which the Danube Swabian communities were destroyed, particularly in Yugoslavia. Nostalgic overtones about a lost homeland intersect with a lasting feeling of being atopos—i.e., “of no place,” in exile and in the diaspora. While most of the narratives emphasize Danube Swabian victimhood, one narrative stands out in its attempt to create a more multidirectional approach to memory about World War II. email@example.com
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