By Lisa Lillie
Lisa Lillie: Truth Telling
“Aujourd’hui, je ne suis pas sûre que ce que j’ai écrit soit vrai. Je suis sûre que c’est véridique."
(Today, I’m not sure that what I wrote is true. I am sure that it’s truthful.)
So reads the introduction to Charlotte Delbo’s Aucun de nous ne reviendra (None of Us Will Return), the first book in a three-part series titled Auschwitz et après (Auschwitz and After). Delbo, a WWII French Resistance fighter and survivor of Auschwitz, wrote the series—a compilation of prose and poetry brutal in its imagery and truthfulness—after the end of the war. Introduced to Delbo in a French class, I quickly became interested in the lives of women in the French Resistance movement and their experiences in Nazi concentration camps.
Delbo’s Auschwitz series was the topic of my senior paper—a subject that challenged both my research skills and my understanding of the French language. Daunted by the idea of writing so large a research paper in a foreign language, I grew accustomed to the work and thoroughly enjoyed the research. I was captivated by Freud’s notion of the uncanny, which I had studied with Professor Mária Brewer. Freud’s fascination with things that are strangely familiar and that return unexpectedly helped me think about Delbo’s own recounting of her experiences. I was also inspired to take several women’s history courses at the University, one of which, Women in European History, 1500 to the Present, was particularly illuminating. It was empowering to learn how women struggled throughout history to achieve equal rights. I now find myself far more confident in writing larger works and in taking on more advanced research projects, and look forward to similar challenges in the future.