by Allison Krape
NCSU, Class of 2002
Overview of Site: under construction
Table of Contents
Social Science Approaches
Ursula Duba, born in 1939 to a strict German father in the city of Colonge, Germany, found herself growing-up in the mists of World War II. Surviving as a young child living in a bomb shelter, for fear of the constant carpet bombings, Duba remembers the hunger pangs due to food shortages. At the age of nineteen, she finally convinced her father to allow her to travel abroad (a hundred miles away) to visit her aunt and uncle.
During this visit, Duba went on a blind date with a young, Jewish man. The fact the young man was Jewish had no bearing on Duba’s decision to go out with him because until that night she had always thought of Judaism as just another religion, like Protestantism and Catholicism. Not until her date asked her what she thought of Auschwitz, do Duba’s eye open to the horrors of the war she had witnessed first hand.
After an entire night of talking with her date, Duba learned of the terrible atrocities committed by her people. The next day, she began research of her own and soon learned of the tragedy of World War II and her people's involvement in it. This research, as well as feelings of sorrow, regret, and guilt inspired Duba to direct her writing career towards her poetry about being "a child of the enemy."
Duba, who found success recently, does not have much written about her in terms of biographical information. Her life, as of now, remains unknown to the public, but hopefully sites like this will spark more interest in this talented and heartfelt author's work. Duba acknowledges that Alice Walker, Jamaica Kincaid, Toni Morrison, and Amy Tan have influenced her writing.
Related Web sites
Interview With Duba
Female Holocaust Poets (problem w/ this link)
Characters: Duba (as narrator)
A now grown, German woman recounts her life and childhood growing up in a war-torn Germany during World War II. At the time of her childhood, she was unaware of the war's true happenings. But after the discovery of this betrayal by her parents and her country, Duba begins to tell her own as well others' stories. These poetic remembrances of the Holocaust are haunting, riveting and heartfelt.Setting: Places mentioned in collection (maps below).
Types of Poems in the Collection:
Donna Seaman [need citation]
Donna Seaman writes the only "true" book review of Tales from a Child of the Enemy. She touches on Duba, her life and her reasons for writing, but never truly reaches the core of Duba's poetry. Understandably, the collection of poetry is difficult to write one review of, but Seaman fails to address the main themes of guilt, anger, and sadness which Duba centers her poems. Though eloquently written, Seaman does not offer much more than a general overview. The incorporation of examples of other poems, such as the works written of Jewish survivors, the circumstances created after liberation, the lives of German civilian, and life as a German child in World War II would give the review more depth and give readers a greater understanding of the message Duba tries to convey.Janet Silver Ghent, "German-born Poet's Collection Reveal Memories, Guilt" Jewish Bulletin [need summary]
A Perspective From A Fun-House Mirror in Duba's Tales from a Child of the Enemy
As children, many people attend fairs and carnivals that have fun-house mirrors. The bending and curving of the figures who peer into these mirrors gives the illusion of a distorted reflection. In her collection of poems, Tales From A Child of the Enemy, Ursula Duba portrays her parents, teachers, and parish priest as "fun-house mirrors." Trusting in these adults and their view of the world, Duba finds herself severely misled by their nationalistic view of Germany and the German Army. Eventually, the sad truth and atrocities of World War II reveal themselves and Duba, through ehr poetry, breaks free of the fun-house mirror’s distortions.
As a German child growing up during the horror of a war-torn world, Ursula Duba knows only what the adults surrounding her tell her. In her thirteen years of school, she studies everything from "Antiquity, / [to]…the Nineteenth Century," (Duba 46), but of war she only learned:
Duba's awakening, however, leads her to deny herself the comfort and shelter her parents provided for her all those years, and find out the truth about the war she thought ended years ago.how the French
had treated the Algerians
and the English
the people in India
are not the only ones
who have done wrong (47-48)
"Blind Date" narrates Duba's unexpected and horrifying awakening to the Holocaust. When her date asks her, "What do you think of Auschwitz?" (43) Duba replies that "she wasn't much of a history buff, / and didn't care about Napoleon and his battles" (43). This uneducated remark, through no fault of her own, leads the two into a detailed discussion of the Holocaust and "the atrocities committed by her country" (43). After this discussion transpires, Duba
She begins to search veraciously for books that would lend her "information on what happened, / between 1933 and 1945" (46). Upon the completion of her research, Duba discovers the danger of the "fun-house" mirror's distorted image and how it manifested into her truth.was shocked
With her new truth, Duba began her writing in order to renounce her involvement in the terrible things her country engaged in during WWII. She decides that "till the end of her life, / she would prove / she wasn't one of them" (44). Through her poetry, therefore, she creates her unique perspective that denounces the distorted history the "fun-house" mirror creates and sheds a new light on the travesty we know as the Holocaust.
Literary Web Links:
Amazon.com Readers' Reviews
Review by Donna Seaman (problem w/ this link)
Historical essay: "How
Duba Recaptures History through Poetry" under construction
Timeline of WWII
|1918-33||The Nazi party flourishes in a war torn and resentful Germany|
|1/30/33||Hitler becomes "Chancellor of Germany" & Germany becomes a dictatorship|
|1933||Hitler begins to implement his idea of Germans as a "superior race." The rejection and persecution of Jews, gypsies, handicap, homosexuals, Jehovah's witnesses, Catholics etc. begins|
|1933-37||The implementation of concentration camps|
|1937-39||The economic stability of the Jewish people is destroyed in both Germany and Austria.|
|11/9/38||Kristalinacht, (the night of broken glass), a riot on Jewish synagogues and businesses.|
|1939-41||The Jewish people are forced to relocate to "ghettos."|
|1939-45||90% of Polish Jews are murdered.|
|9/1/39||The Germans invade Poland and World War II begins.|
|4/19/45||The collapse of Nazi Germany and the end of World War II.|
|4/14/48||The Jewish State of Israel is established.|
More information on the history of the Holocaust:
Unites States Holocaust Memorial MuseumMaps:
Why People Deny the Holocaust
World War II: The German Perspective
Urdula Duba's poetry collection, while a critique of the German people, also raises awareness that every story has two sides. When most people think about the Holocaust, they remember the millions of Jews who perished at the hands of Hitler and his Nazi Regime. Hitler's polices not only devastated the population of European Jews, but also adversely affected the civilian population of Germany. Many Germans who did not openly support the Nazis had to survive Allied carpet bombings in a country they no longer recognized. Hitler's following grew to great numbers, but he had as many supporters as opponents. Ursula Duba once said "in order to kill six million people you have to have hundreds of thousands of people involved in the killing" (??) As Duba's collection suggests, understanding the full extent of the German mindset during World War II requires explore both sides of a divided country and in doing so, hopefully, come to a better understanding of the events of Nazi Germany.
At the time of Hitler's rise to power, the German people still carried a deep resentment for the embarrassment they suffered at the end of World War I. Peter Gabel states after World War I, "No social base existed that could soften the psychological effects of the Germans’ loss of pride in their national identity… And as a result, the degraded "German People" were drawn to a Nazi party capable of re-inspiring a sense of national pride" (6) after they were forced to pay large reparations for their involvement in WWI. German nationalism previously gave Germans pride in their country and heritage, but many began to view "their nation as history's whipping boy" (Brockmann 1). This bitterness and resentment for the rest of the world manifested itself into rabid anti-Semitism and the advent of the Jews as scapegoats for many of Germany's problems.
Though a great number of Germans fell victim to Hitler's propaganda, not all Germans felt so hopeless and bitter. Martin Peretz maintains, "Any serious person you meet in Germany has wrestled with the war, the Holocaust, and the war" (1). Many Germans feel an indescribable guilt for what the leaders of their country did to other members of the human race. So many Germans found themselves unaware of the extensive measures taken by the Nazis to carry out Hitler's plan for genocide. When the truth finally came to light, the death camps no longer existed, but the devastation and guilt found a permanent home in the hearts and minds of all involved. Hegi sadly concludes, "After coming face to face with the truth, she finally realizes the she does not want to be a follower anymore, nor a leader" (1).
Both the nationalistic and the guilt ridden views of Germans in post-war Germany help to explain how the tragedy of the Holocaust could happen. Those who followed Hitler felt they justified in doing so and those unaware of the truth now only feel guilt. German pride and nationalism gave Germans a great feeling of self-respect they felt needed preservation at any cost. No excuse can give justification to the events of the Nazi Holocaust, but maybe a look into the minds of the German people, through works like Duba's, can give a better understanding.
Children, Parents, and War
American Academy of Pediatrics. "Study of Bosnian Children Documents the Psychological Effects of War." Press Release. (3 November 1997): 29 April 1999 <http://www.aap.org/advocacy/archives/novbosn.htm>
Gabel, Peter. "Meaning of the Holocaust: a Social Alienation and the Infliction of HumanSsuffering." Tikkun. (Nov-Dec 1998) <http://web7.searchbank.com/itw/session/804/371/12625370w5/151nxt> 27 April 1999
"Everyone knew, but they
chose to be silent.
It's many things, it's shame and not wanting to express themselves."