The 'Games' People Play: The Dangers of Holocaust Simulations and Thought Experiments in Nathan Englander’s and Ellen Umansky’s Short Stories and Beyond

Publikation: Beiträge in ZeitschriftenZeitschriftenaufsätzeForschungbegutachtet


As an increasing number of Holocaust survivors pass away, the fear of forgetting coupled with concerns about Jewish secularism have led rabbis, educators, scholars, and writers to discuss how the lessons of the Holocaust as well as the memory of its victims and survivors might best be preserved and most effectively conveyed to new generations. This study examines these concerns as well as the discussion on Jewish American identity and Holocaust simulation pedagogy as they pertain to Ellen Umansky’s “How to Make it to the Promised Land” (2003) and Nathan Englander’s “What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank” (2013). In both short stories, which reference Anne Frank, characters engage in “what if ” scenarios by playing seemingly harmless Holocaust “games” that take a dark turn and conclude with unsettling revelations. In Umansky’s story, the insecure teenage narrator, Lizzie, is forced to participate in an ill-conceived Holocaust activity at a Jewish summer camp. Instead of helping her to understand her Jewish identity
Sabrina VölzVol. 3, No. 1 (2021)× 160×and history, the role-play leads the narrator to betray a friend to save her own life in that simulated environment. Englander’s short story gives readers a glimpse into Holocaust consciousness in the United States today and treats the lasting impact of overzealous Holocaust education on Jewish identity. I
ZeitschriftJournal of the Austrian Association for America Studies
Seiten (von - bis)159-178
Anzahl der Seiten20
PublikationsstatusErschienen - 29.12.2021