Ruth Klugers memoir, Still Alive: A Holocaust Girlhood Remembered (2001), an expansion of To Continue to Live: A Childhood (1991), recounts her story, building from blunt commentary on her childhood experiences to a philosophical argument for the right to live and the right to self-determination. Her reflections are provocative, ranging from thoughts on the modern memorialization of the Shoah, to angry, cynical commentary, as she proclaims, Instead of God I believe in ghosts. She traces her childhood completely, from growing up surrounded by uncertainty and Nazi propaganda, to her actual experience in the camps, to her status as a refugee in America.
One thing is certain, though Ruth Kluger is still alive. Though she is still haunted by her harrowing experiences, she has gone on living, first graduating in 1950 from Hunter College in New York City, and then receiving a Ph.D. from Berkeley, Kluger has built up a reputation as an insightful German literary scholar, with a particular expertise on the writings of Kleist, Lessing, Stifter, and Grillparzer. She was chair of the German department at Princeton in the 1980s, and is now professor emerita of German literature at U.C. Irvine. She has also won numerous prizes for her scholarly work as well as her memoirs, including the Thomas-Mann-Preis and the Prix Memoire de la Shoah.
Ruth Klugers talk at the Athenaeum is sponsored by the Center for the Study of the Holocaust, Genocide, and Human Rights.