Innocent Culprits - Silent Communities. On the Europeanisation of the Memory of the Shoah in Austria
Topics: Main Topic: Holocaust and Memorial, Memory, Holocaust Commemoration, National Identity, Oral History and Biography
Abstract: The Shoah destroyed the substance of Austrian Jewishness. The emigration of the survivors after 1945 and the indignation of the Austrian society resulted in the dislocation of the memory of the Shoah itself. The Shoah provoked a massive social amnesia during the first two to three decades after World War II in Europe. The long silence was broken by the American television series Shoah in 1979 and by the Waldheim affair in 1986. Since the second half of the 1990s, a large‐scale restitution process and a new government program of commemoration have begun. Seemingly, Austria has successfully joined the mainstream of the European culture of memory. However, Austrian Jews as victims or survivors gradually came to be missing or played a minor role in the daily practice of the local and national politics of memory. One has the impression that the ‘local Jews’ have been overshadowed by the Europeanisation of the Shoah. The paper presents an Austrian case as a paradoxical example of ‘creative forgetting’ or ‘forgetting by remembering’.