Doctoral researcher Bernadette Scasna presents her research at the IABA World Conference “Life-Writing: Imagining the Past, Present and Future” on Friday, 17th June (9:00-10:30). The title of the presentation is “Analyzing Adapted Life Stories Through Audience Reception: Adapting the Life Story of Eliška Fischmann Fábryová in the Novel Money From Hitler”.
In my paper I analyze the journey of Eliška Fischmann Fábryová’s life story by bringing together literary, memory, and reception studies. Fábryová was an assimilated Jew with German roots and Czech citizenship which complicated her life. She was taken to a concentration camp as a child and after the end of World War II, she found out that all her family’s property was confiscated under Beneš decree 12/1945, and her family was condemned as traitors to the Czech Republic. My paper explores how far her life story has traveled, how it has transformed, and how it is received and interpreted in the 21st century based on its loose literary adaptation in Radka Denemarková’s novel Peníze od Hitlera (Money From Hitler). In the novel, Fábryová is represented by a character called Gita Lauschmann. The novel shows that the pain, suffering, and loss do not end by signing a peace treaty, but the lives of individuals are changed and influenced by the past until their death.
The popularity, far reach, and positive reception of the novel are undeniable. I argue that the key to the success of making the story of Fábryová more known internationally is due to Denemarková’s good use of literary aesthetics and the portrayal of long-term effects of war on the lives of individuals. Furthermore, the local and global reception of this narrative brings out interesting dialogues that promote understanding of how memories of different individuals’ lives travel and how they are understood. Therefore, I analyze the local and global reception of the novel and the different interpretations of the story offered by professional reviewers as well as reviews of general readership to show how Fábryová’s story plays an important role in the memorialization of the Holocaust all around the world.