Sexual Violence in History: A Bibliography

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First published: July 1, 2023 - Last updated: July 1, 2023


Author: Maureen Burdock

Title: Death to the Patriarchal Theater!

Subtitle: Charlotte Salomon's Graphic Testimony

In: German #MeToo: Rape Cultures and Resistance, 1770-2020

Edited by: Elisabeth Krimmer and Patricia Anne Simpson

Place: Rochester, NY

Publisher: Boydell & Brewer

Year: 2022 (Publiehed online: October 8, 2022)

Pages: 171-196

Series: Women and Gender in German Studies 10

ISBN-13: 9781640141353 (hardcover) - Find a Library: Wikipedia, WorldCat | ISBN-13: 9781800106062 (EPUB) - Find a Library: Wikipedia, WorldCat | ISBN-13: 9781800106055 (PDF) - Find a Library: Wikipedia, WorldCat

Language: English

Keywords: Modern History: 20th Century | European History: German History | Cases: Real Victims / Charlotte Salomon; Types: Rape / Incestual Rape; Offenders: Kinship / Grandfathers; Victims: Kinship / Granddaughters; Representations: Art / Charlotte Salomon


- Cambridge Core (Restricted Access)

- JSTOR (Restricted Access)

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Author: Author's Personal Website

Summary: »Ggerman-Jewish Artist Charlotte Salomon (1917-43) recorded her short life in a series of over 1,000 works on paper, all while in exile in France over a period of two years. She overlaid 330 paintings with handlettered narratives on tracing paper, while she painted text directly onto some of the later pieces. This collection, titled Life? or Theatre? A Song- Play (Leben? oder Theater? Ein Singespiel), remained relatively obscure for decades, and it was often categorized as Holocaust art-understandably so, as Salomon was murdered at Auschwitz, and her opus is the "largest single work of art created by a Jew during the Holocaust," according to Toni Bentley. But while she does reveal the effects of social and political violence on herself and her family in a handful of the paintings and texts, the work, despite being exhibited most often in Holocaust museums, is not about the Shoah; it is about the artist's and her family's tragedies and secrets, about her loves, her artistic inspiration and drive, and about her fear of suicidal depression in the midst of war and exile.
Depression among the women in Salomon's family may have been related to domestic abuse. In a thirty-five-page letter to her mentor, Alfred Wolfsohn, which was only made public in 2015, the young artist confesses to fatally poisoning her grandfather. Of course, all autobiographical works are creatively mediated memories of personal experiences, not journalistic reportage. It is possible that this confession is hyperbolic and fictional; nevertheless, even a murderous fantasy informs readers of the extreme nature of the artist's feelings toward the old man. And one could argue that Salomon's letter falls into a different category of life writing than her creative Song-Play, one less prone to outlandish fabrications. In her letter, Salomon records her grandfather's insistence that she share a bed with him and her feelings of intense aversion toward him, culminating in the murder. As Bentley observes, Salomon writes that it was Herr Doktor Ludwig Grünwald, not "Herr Hitler," who "symbolized for me the people I had to resist." While it is impossible to substantiate this interpretation, Salomon's Gesamtkunstwerk and confessional postscript might well point to a history of sexual abuse.« (Source: Cambridge Core)

Wikipedia: History of Europe: History of Germany | Painting: Charlotte Salomon | Sex and the law: Rape / Incest