“Our Ears Lived Their Own Lives”

The Auditory Experience in Breslau Autobiographical Literature during the ‘Third Reich’

Avant, Vol. XI, No. 3, doi: 10.26913/avant.2020.03.32
published under license CC BY-NC-ND 3.0

Annelies Augustyns orcid-id
University of Antwerp, Vrije Universiteit Brussel

Received 28 November 2019; accepted 20 September 2020; published Online First 17 December 2020.

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Abstract: With Adolf Hitler coming to power in January 1933, the National Socialists staged their domi-nance in the city center of Breslau by using various visual and auditory elements – including swastikas, singing, marching, dispersing rumors – to spread their influence and keep the people under control. How were these changes in the city soundscape used for social exclusion and territory-marking? How were they experienced by the Jewish population and how can they be related to questions of identity and (non-)belonging? Addressing these questions with the corpus of autobiographical writings – both diaries and autobiographies – from Jewish victims from the city of Breslau will be the main aim of this article. This study of literary testimonies will focus on the constant and changing sounds of propaganda in Breslau, sound technologies such as radio and loudspeakers used for propaganda, and the relation between sound, identity, and trauma.

Keywords: city soundscape; Breslau; ‘Third Reich’; autobiographies; diaries; identity; trauma


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