The post-Holocaust memoir
20 years after 50 years later
The War After (Karpf, 1996), a family memoir about the psycho-social effects of the Holocaust on the children of survivors, attracted considerable attention when first published. 20 years later, Karpf argues, it can be read as an example of post-postmemory. Hirsch (2012) defined postmemory as those memories of the Holocaust that the 'second generation' had of events that shaped their lives but took place before they were born. Post-postmemory, Karpf suggests, is the process whereby such narratives are themselves modified by subsequent events and re-readings brought about by three kinds of time - personal, historical and discursive. Although inevitable, such re-readings run the risk of encouraging Holocaust revisionism and denial. Nevertheless, Karpf claims, they are essential to maintain the post-memoir as a living text.