Topics: Holocaust, Holocaust Commemoration, Holocaust Denial, Holocaust Education, Holocaust Memorials, Holocaust Survivors, Main Topic: Holocaust and Memorial, Jewish Museums
Abstract: The paper argues that the recent history of Holocaust Studies in Lithuania is characterized by major provision (for research, teaching and publishing) coming from state-sponsored agencies, particularly a state commission on both Nazi and Soviet crimes. Problematically, the commission is itself simultaneously active in revising the narrative per se of the Holocaust, principally according to the ‘Double Genocide’ theories of the 2008 Prague Declaration that insists on ‘equalization’ of Nazi and Soviet crimes. Lithuanian agencies have played a disproportionate role in that declaration, in attempts at legislating some of its components in the European Parliament and other EU bodies, and ‘export’ of the revisionist model to the West. Much international support for solid independent Lithuanian Holocaust researchers and NGOs was cut off as the state commission set out determinedly to dominate the field, which is perceived to have increasing political implications in East-West politics. But this history must not obscure an impressive list of local accomplishments. A tenaciously devoted group of Holocaust survivors themselves, trained as academics or professionals in other fields, educated themselves to publish books, build a mini-museum (that has defied the revisionists) within the larger state-sponsored Jewish museum, and worked to educate both pupils and the wider public. Second, a continuing stream of non-Jewish Lithuanian scholars, educators, documentary film makers and others have at various points valiantly defied state pressures and contributed significantly and selflessly. The wider picture is that Holocaust Studies has been built most successfully by older Holocaust survivors and younger non-Jews, in both groups often by those coming to work in it from other specialties out of a passion for justice and truth in history, while lavishly financed state initiatives have been anchored in the inertia of nationalist regional politics.
Topics: Antisemitism, Holocaust, Holocaust Denial, Holocaust Commemoration, Museums, Main Topic: Holocaust and Memorial, Memory, Post-1989
Abstract: In contrast to twentieth-century Holocaust Denial, the most recent assault on the narrative of the genocide of European Jewry has emanated from a sophisticated revisionist model known as Double Genocide, codified in the 2008 Prague Declaration. Positing ‘equality' of Nazi and Soviet crimes, the paradigm’s corollaries sometimes include attempts to rehabilitate perpetrators and discredit survivors. Emanating from pro-Western governments and elites in Eastern Europe in countries with records of high collaboration, the movement has reached out widely to the Holocaust Studies establishment as well as Jewish institutions. It occasionally enjoys the political support of major Western countries in the context of East-West politics, or in the case of Israel, attempts to garner (eastern) European Union support. The empirical effects to date have included demonstrable impact on museums, memorials and exhibits in Eastern Europe and beyond.
Abstract: Holocaust memorials are seismographs of historical consciousness. The topography of commemoration for the more than 66,000 victims of the Holocaust in the Austrian federal capital Vienna points up the development from exclusion of the Holocaust from Austrian memory to its incorporation: after 1945, the memory of the murdered was an empty space in the public arena. The official state doctrine of Austria as the ‘first victim’ of National Socialismis mirrored in the landscape of memorials: memorialization centered on resistance to the Nazi regime. The watershed came with the debate on Kurt Waldheim in 1986 when Austria was confrontation with its Austrian Nazi past. The establishment of the Holocaust Memorial on Judenplatz in 2000 symbolizes that the Holocaust had also gravitated to the center of the official culture of memory at the end of the twentieth century in Austria as well as professors at colleges and universities. The present paper will describe the stages in the process extending from the blanking out of Holocaust commemoration to its internalization.
Topics: Main Topic: Holocaust and Memorial, Memory, Holocaust Commemoration, German-Jewish Relations, Museums
Abstract: This paper looks at how historical museums in Germany that are not Holocaust or Jewish museums represent Jews. It examines the permanent and temporary exhibitions, as well as their visitors’ experiences, at the two largest national and state-sponsored historical museums: the House of History in Bonn and the German Historical Museum in Berlin. I first analyze the ways in which Jewish symbols and images of Jews tell the story of the Holocaust’s aftermath in those museums. The article then focuses on a temporary exhibition, ‘Shalom: Three Photographers See Germany,’ at the Bonn House of History (August 2015–June 2016). I suggest that the exhibitions create directed viewing, whereby the visitors look at Jews and project the experience of viewing Holocaust images. I argue that as they are presented and viewed in the ‘Shalom’ exhibition, Jews undergo temporal displacement whereby their subject position and possible roles both in remembering and in being remembered are limited. I conclude by showing that Jews, as well as other Holocaust victim groups and migrant groups in Germany today, are not equal subjects of memory, meaning both that their subjectivity as participants in the public sphere is limited to specific roles, times and spaces, and that inter-subjective communication about their representation is limited.
The Holocaust is a Foreign Country: Comparing Representations of Place in Lithuanian Jewish Testimony
Topics: Main Topic: Holocaust and Memorial, Holocaust Survivors, Holocaust, Oral History and Biography, Interviews, Geography, Diaspora, Yiddish
Abstract: This article explores discourse on the Holocaust as a ‘placeless’ event. Analyzing survivor testimony delivered in different cultural contexts, I ask whether or not the idea of strange or vanished places is culturally specific or universal to memories of Holocaust victimhood. As a case study, I analyze the testimony of Lithuanian Jewish Holocaust survivors. I compare the more commonly heard testimonies of survivors living in North America and Israel to the lesser known voices of survivors who have remained in Lithuania—witnesses who live and testify ‘on the scene of the crime.’ I demonstrate how important the idea of estranged geography figures in the testimony of émigré witnesses. By contrast, the survivors who have remained in Lithuania draw a different narrative map of the country, one in which past and present interact on the same sites. Their home landscape, however, also has black holes, dark places that they consider untouchable in everyday life. The article thus points to a tension between contextual particularities and universal challenges in depicting Holocaust places.