What is it about?

This article analyses Rosenthal’s comic booklet and shows how he uses the comic genre to depict the horrors of the Gurs internment camp to involve readers in what happened there and to produce a text that speaks to all.

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Why is it important?

Using Mickey Mouse, the international cartoon hero, alongside an hidden reference to Dante's Inferno, a cornerstone of the Western canon, turns Rosenthal’s experience into a universal one and permits author and reader to focus on the emotional level that transcends all rationality.

Perspectives

One foreigner interned at Gurs was a young German Jew named Horst Rosenthal, born in Breslau (Lower Silesia) in 1915. When Hitler came to power, Rosenthal immigrated to France and settled in the 18th arrondissement in Paris. He was twenty-five when he was arrested, sent to Saint-Cyprien and then transferred to Gurs on 28 September 1940. Various documents indicate he was sent, in August 1941, to a different labor camp for about two months. Shortly afterwards, he was brought back to Gurs and then transferred to Drancy. On 11 September 1942, Rosenthal was put on transport 31 heading to Auschwitz-Birkenau. He was murdered on arrival at the age of twenty-seven. While in Gurs, Rosenthal wrote and drew three satirical comic books: Mickey in the Gurs camp: Published without Walt Disney’s permission; A short guide to the Gurs camp, 1942, and A day in the life of a prisoner: Gurs camp, 1942. After the liberation, Rabbi Max Ansbacher, who had served as chaplain at Gurs, found the books and in 1978 donated them to the Centre of Contemporary Jewish Documentation in Paris. I wish to commemorate Rosenthal’s work by offering a new poetic perspective to one of his comic booklets.

Yaakova Sacerdoti
Levinsky College of Education

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This page is a summary of: A Transtextual Hermeneutic Journey, European Comic Art, June 2019, Berghahn Journals, DOI: 10.3167/eca.2019.120103.
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