Live on. A youth

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Live on. Eine Jugend is the title of the 1992 autobiography by the literary scholar Ruth Klüger . In her memoirs, Klüger describes her Jewish childhood and youth in Austria and Germany at the time of National Socialism, the conditions of her survival and the (im) possibility of continuing to live.


Klüger's autobiography is divided into five parts:

  • First part: Vienna
  • Second part: The camps (Theresienstadt, Auschwitz-Birkenau, Christianstadt / Groß-Rosen)
  • Third part: Germany (escape, Bavaria)
  • Fourth part: New York
  • Epilogue: Göttingen

First part: Vienna

The first part of the memories covers Ruth Klüger's childhood and youth in her hometown of Vienna, where she was born on October 30, 1931. With the annexation of Austria , Austria came under National Socialist rule from March 1938. In her childhood, Klüger experienced anti-Semitism, the exclusion of Jews from public life, and the gradual persecution and deportation that began. Since her life was subject to ever increasing restrictions, she sought refuge in the world of literature.

Second part: the camps

At the age of eleven, Klüger and her mother were initially deported to Theresienstadt . From there, it comes in the Theresienstadt family camp of Auschwitz-Birkenau and then to Christian City , a satellite camp of Gross-Rosen concentration camp abducted.

Third part: Germany

Together with her mother and another girl, Klüger managed to escape on an evacuation march at the beginning of 1945, and they reached Straubing on a train with a false identity, which a pastor granted them in the final phase of the German Reich . After the invasion of the US Army, they hope to emigrate to Palestine or the USA soon, but this is dragging on. Klüger received a high school diploma in an opaque way in Straubing and began studying in Regensburg.

Fourth part: New York

In 1947 Klüger emigrated to the USA with his mother, where she initially lived with her mother and began studying.

publishing company

The manuscript was rejected by Siegfried Unseld , the then director of Suhrkamp Verlag , on the grounds that it was "not literary enough for Suhrkamp standards". The publication was then taken care of by the Wallstein Verlag in Göttingen .

Reception and awards

Live on. One youth was received very favorably by both reviewers and readers. Ruth Klüger received numerous awards and honors for this autobiographical novel (see article about Ruth Klüger). In the SWR best list , the book reached number 1 in September 1992.

If they understand correctly, writes Herta Müller in an essay of 2003 on live on , then be for the child Ruth Klüger the resealing of Schiller - ballads "the most intense kind of [have] to deal with the known ballads shreds". The girl owes her processing of experiences to the memory of verses which, due to their form, offered a support to the bound language: "Schiller's ballads then also became my appeal poems" (Klüger), because they could be recited during roll calls while standing for hours Courtyard of the concentration camp . “They are children's poems, which wanted to counterbalance the chaos with their regularity” (Klüger). In her review essay, Müller also describes her impression of statements that Ruth Klüger made in subordinate clauses: what group boundaries there were in the concentration camps in which “the German politicals” (Müller) felt superior to their Jewish fellow prisoners. Müller adds: “It is surprising that German homosexuals who were also in the death camps are not mentioned in this context. I believe it will not be an omission by the author, but the fact that they, the homosexuals, like the Jews, were 'organically' despised by the Nazis: 'sub-humans' by their bodies, not political enemies. "Müller attests It is wiser that stories that are only outlined and not told reverberate for a long time in the silence in the head. For example in the episode about the young Liesel, who confided something to the girl Ruth and who followed her father into the gas chamber and wrote about the Klüger: “Liesel was not a sentimental girl. [...] But she was also a child, and what she unpacked in front of me was more than she could digest “(Klüger). Ruth Klüger succeeds in maintaining the level of human closeness because she does not erect a monument to any of the dead, but rather preserves the confusion with them. Klüger "does not lift a dead person too far, but only to the height of human closeness."

In 2008, 100,000 copies of the book were made in Vienna as part of the Eine Stadt. A book. given away.


Successor work

In 2008 appeared with Lost On The Go. Memories another autobiographical work by Klüger.

further reading


Scientific literature

  • Stephan Braese, Holger Gehle (ed.): Ruth Klüger in Germany . Self-rel. H. Gehle, Bonn 1994, ISBN 3-9804056-0-5 , ( Kassiber 1).
  • Stephan Braese, Holger Gehle: From "German friends". Ruth Klüger's “Live on - One Youth” in the German reception . In: Der Deutschunterricht 47, 1995, no . 6, ISSN  0340-2258 , pp. 76-87.
  • Sascha Feuchert: Ruth Klüger: keep living . Reclam, Stuttgart 2004, ISBN 978-3-15-016045-9 ( Reclam's universal library: documents and explanations ).
  • Irene Heidelberger-Leonard: Ruth Klüger, live on. A youth. Interpretation . Oldenbourg, Munich 1996, ISBN 3-486-88680-0 , ( Oldenbourg interpretations 81).
  • Clemens Kammler: An Event in the Auschwitz Discourse. Ruth Klüger's autobiography “Live on. A youth ”in class . In: Der Deutschunterricht 47, 1995, H. 6, ISSN  0340-2258 , pp. 19-30.
  • Andrea Krauss: Dialogue and tree of words. Historical constructions in Ruth Klüger's “Live on. Eine Jugend ”and Martin Walser's“ Ein jumping fountain ” . In: Barbara Beßlich , Olaf Hildebrand, Katharina Grätz (eds.): Wende des Erinnerns? Historical constructions in German literature after 1989 . Schmidt, Berlin 2006, ISBN 3-503-07980-7 , ( Philological Studies and Sources 198), pp. 69-85.
  • Irmela von der Lühe : The prison of memory. Narrative strategies against the consumption of horror in Ruth Klüger's “Live on” . In: Manuel Köppen, Klaus R. Scherpe (Ed.): Pictures of the Holocaust. Literature, film, visual arts . Böhlau, Cologne et al. 1997, ISBN 3-412-05197-7 (= literature - culture - gender Kleine Reihe 19), pp. 29–45.
  • Dagmar von Hoff, Herta Müller : storytelling, remembering and morals. Ruth Klügers continue to live. One Youth (1992), in: Remembered Shoah. The literature of the survivors = The shoah remembered. Walter Schmitz (Ed.), Thelem, Dresden 2003, pp. 203-22, ISBN 978-3-935712-32-3 .

Individual evidence

  1. Only unforgiveness helps , Die Zeit, October 22, 2008
  2. Irene Heidelberger-Leonard: Ruth Klüger, continue living. A youth. Interpretation . Oldenbourg, Munich 1996, ISBN 3-486-88680-0 , (Oldenbourg-Interpretationen 81), p. 152.
  3. a b c Herta Müller: "Say that you are fifteen" - live on , second part of the joint contribution Dagmar von Hoff, Herta Müller: Tell, remember and morals. Ruth Klügers continue to live. One Youth (1992), in: Remembered Shoah. The literature of the survivors = The shoah remembered. Walter Schmitz (Ed.), Thelem, Dresden 2003, pp. 203-222, 2nd part pp. 209-221.