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Abstract

In the periodisation of German literature, the designation Trümmerliteratur has sometimes been assigned to literature produced in the years 1945–1950. This chronological practice is problematic because it overlooks the network of overlapping qualities that unite the works of Trümmerliteratur as a genre; these works are linked by their distinctively post-war plots, their shared stylistic characteristics, and their common narrative themes. Wolfgang Borchert, Günter Eich, and Heinrich Böll, among others, were products of the specific time and place of their development, and the stories they produced reveal specific experiences of life in the ruins. Their apocalyptic expressions of oblivion, loss, trauma, and temporary nihilism and the sparse Kahlschlag style characteristic of these expressions provide a more comprehensive set of definitions for Trümmerliteratur as a genre than does a simple bracketing time frame.An examination of these definitions clarifies what is meant or understood under the term “Trümmerliteratur”, and may expose blind spots, such as the authorship of women, that can be obscured by conventional framings of the period.

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