Interpreting in Nazi Concentration Camps


Interpreting in Nazi Concentration Camps

Michaela Wolf 2016

E-Book: 248 pages

Price: 1.000 Toman

Download: Interpreting in Nazi Concentration Camps  (Wolf 2016).

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This significant new study is concerned with the role of interpreting in Nazi concentration camps, where prisoners were of 30 to 40 different nationalities. With German as the only official language in the lager, communication was vital to the prisoners’ survival. While in the last few decades there has been extensive research on the language used by the camp inmates, investigation into the mediating role of interpreters between SS guards and prisoners on the one hand, and among inmates on the other, has been almost nonexistent.

On the basis of Primo Levi’s considerations on communication in the Nazi concentrationary system, this book investigates the ambivalent role of interpreting in the camps. One of the central questions is what the role of interpreting was in the wider context of shaping life in concentration camps. And in what way did the knowledge of languages, and accordingly, certain communication skills, contribute to the survival of concentration camp inmates and of the interpreting person? The main sources under investigation are both archive materials and survivors’ memoirs and testimonials in various languages.

On a different level, Interpreting in Nazi Concentration Camps also asks in what way the study of communication in concentration camps enhances our understanding of the ambiguous role of interpreting in more general terms. And in what way does the study of interpreting in concentration camps shape an interpreting concept which can help us to better understand the violent nature of interpreting in contexts other than the Holocaust?


In this book Michaela Wolf brings together pioneering essays by an outstanding group of scholars conducting pioneering research on interpreting encounters within Nazi Concentration Camps. The contributors offer many insights, from the psychological ramifications upon interpreters practicing under the most horrific of conditions, thru prisoners translating themselves into the German language and culture for pragmatic reasons, to some of the hidden and whispered multilingual communication among inmates necessary for survival. Wide-ranging and innovative, looking at both the interpreting work during the war and its post-war repercussions, this book is a must for all students and scholars of translation and interpreting, as well as those in history, ethics, communication, and Holocaust studies.
Edwin Gentzler, Professor of Translation Studies and Director of Comparative Literature, University of Massachusetts Amherst, USA
Michaela Wolf’s excellent collection of carefully chosen essays adds greatly to our understanding of the always precarious and often ambiguous role of the concentration camp interpreter. The reader is able to gain new insights into the many practical and moral issues involved in interpreting between victims and perpetrators in this multilingual and extremely dangerous world. Anyone with an interest in the Holocaust or in the moral and ethical aspects of interpreting will want to read this book.

Jean Boase-Beier, Emeritus Professor of Literature and Translation, University of East Anglia, UK

About the Author

Michaela Wolf is Associate Professor in the Department of Translation Studies at the University of Graz, Austria. Having published extensively in translation studies, her previous books include Framing the Interpreter (with Anxo Fernández Ocampo, 2014) and The Habsburg Monarchy’s Many-Languaged Soul: Translating and Interpreting, 1848-1918 (2015). Between 2008-2012 she was co-editor of the journal Translation Studies (Routledge).

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