This chapter develops Chapter 2’s analysis of the role of memory in British-Jewish culture by looking at representations of the Holocaust in contemporary texts. As the above epigraph from Grant suggests, even within the relatively benign conditions of 1950s suburbia, the Holocaust subtended the lives of British Jews at a deep and sometimes unconscious level. This sense of history as ‘breathing down our necks’ is a key theme in accounts from the immediate post-war generation. For Alderman, who is a further generation away from the war, the Holocaust was still a pervasive presence throughout her childhood.3 Noting the difficulties of having been educated to ‘imagine myself in a camp’, she is aware of an ongoing sense of anxiety about the potential re-emergence of antisemitism: ‘the Holocaust is right here’, she says, ‘it could happen at any moment’ (30). So, like Grant, she grew up with a consciousness of the ‘mental chasm’ into which post-war Jews were always ‘fearful that we could fall’. But Alderman also recognizes the paranoia that accompanies such fear. ‘Except it’s not here’, she acknowledges; adding that, ‘right now, right here, life is about as good for us as life has ever been for anyone in the history of the world. Probably better’ (30). She thus sums up a disparity that informs much contemporary British-Jewish writing on the Holocaust. This tension, between remembering a traumatic collective past, whilst living fully in the present, is the focus of this chapter.
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