transcript is a disturbing document. Using the techniques of concrete and visual poetry, Heimrad Bäcker presents quotations from the Holocaust’s planners, perpetrators, and victims. The book offers a startling collection of documents that confront us with details from the bureaucratic world of the Nazis and the intimate worlds they destroyed: Bäcker’s sources range from victims’ letters and medical charts to train schedules and the telephone records of Auschwitz. His transcriptions and reworkings of these sources serve as a reminder that everything about the Shoah was spoken about in great detail, from the most banal to the most monstrous: it was by no means “unspeakable,” but was an eminently describable and described act, spoken and written about by thousands of people concerned with the precision, and even the beauty, of their language.
Heimrad Bäcker (1925-2003) was a Viennese poet and photographer. He joined the Hitler Youth and Nazi Party during Hitler’s annexation of Austria, and much of his work deals with his horrified reaction to the Holocaust and a minute examination of the subtler marks it’s left on world culture, especially in Austria.