Topics: Holocaust Education, Holocaust Memorials, Holocaust Commemoration, Main Topic: Holocaust and Memorial, National Identity
Abstract: This article explores the politics of Holocaust memorialization by examining the intersection of education, commemoration and national identity in 21st-century Britain since the inaugural Holocaust Memorial Day in 2001. The article shows how institutionalized spheres have intersected with contemporary cultural discourse surrounding questions of civic morality, immigration and the memory of other genocides. The main argument put forward is that the way in which the Holocaust has been indelibly associated with these issues has both implicitly and explicitly connected Holocaust discourse to contemporary debates on what constitutes British identity in the 21st century. The article also suggests that highly domesticated narratives of the period are often used to promote a self-congratulatory notion of British identity and supposed British exceptionalism.
Topics: Holocaust Commemoration, Holocaust Education, Holocaust Memorials, Main Topic: Holocaust and Memorial, Schools: Non-Jewish
Abstract: Moving away from traditional encounters with Holocaust education in academic research this study explores the role of Holocaust education in the construction and mediation of British historical consciousness of the Holocaust. Following contextual explorations of the role of two of the most dominant symbols to have emerged within the field of Holocaust education since the establishment of the National Curriculum, the Holocaust survivor and Auschwitz-Birkenau, this study closely analyses the way in which each of these Holocaust icons has been represented and utilised within educational programmes promoted by the Holocaust Educational Trust. It is shown that the educational representations of these symbols contribute to the domestication of Holocaust consciousness within a British narrative, reinforcing positive interpretations of British national identity and the benefits of liberal democracy whilst, simultaneously, distancing the crimes committed during the Holocaust from the British public through representing these acts as the very antithesis of what is deemed to be British. Through such analysis it is demonstrated that Holocaust education, as it exists in Britain today, reflects the British context in which it has evolved whilst illustrating how it has also fundamentally been shaped by this same context. Whilst considering the ways in which these representations both reflect and shape understandings of the Holocaust this study also illustrates that the Holocaust as it exists in popular consciousness, and educational programmes, is being increasingly unmoored from its historical context as the iconic symbols associated with it are becoming gradually dehistoricised as a means of providing relevant “lessons” for contemporary society. As Holocaust educators reach a crossroads in their field and prepare to decide the future shape British Holocaust education will assume this research constitutes a timely contribution to existing knowledge and understanding of how the Holocaust is encountered within the educational sphere and within British society and culture.
‘Proud to be British; and proud to be Jewish’: the holocaust and British values in the twenty-first century
Topics: Holocaust Commemoration, Holocaust Survivors, Holocaust Education, Attitudes to Jews, Main Topic: Holocaust and Memorial, National Identity
Abstract: As we approach the post-witness era this paper investigates the changing role of the Holocaust and Holocaust survivors in twenty-first century British politics and culture. In the first part, the article discusses the ways in which, through their role in educational initiatives and commemorative culture, survivors have acquired an increased visibility in British understandings of the Holocaust. For a significant period of time, this process was characterized by a tendency to abstract survivors from their Jewish identities to ensure that they could more easily act as mediators of a universalized, yet highly domesticated, Holocaust narrative with meanings for contemporary British society. However, in the second part the article will argue that, starting from the second decade of the twenty-first century, it is also possible to discern an increasing acknowledgement of British Holocaust survivors’ ‘difference.’ It will be suggested that British politicians have attempted to mobilize survivors, the Anglo-Jewish community they are seen to represent, and the Holocaust more in general, in Britain’s domestic battle against Islamic extremism and in the pursuit of the rather elusive concept of ‘British values.’