After Representation? explores one of the major issues in Holocaust studiesùthe intersection of memory and ethics in artistic expression, particularly within literature.
As experts in the study of literature and culture, the scholars in this collection examine the shifting cultural contexts for Holocaust representation and reveal how writersùwhether they write as witnesses to the Holocaust or at an imaginative distance from the Nazi genocideùarticulate the shadowy borderline between fact and fiction, between event and expression, and between the condition of life endured in atrocity and the hope of a meaningful existence. What imaginative literature brings to the study of the Holocaust is an ability to test the limits of language and its conventions. After Representation? moves beyond the suspicion of representation and explores the changing meaning of the Holocaust for different generations, audiences, and contexts.
The appearance of Alain Resnais' 1955 French documentary Night and Fog heralded the beginning of a new form of cinema, one that used the narrative techniques of modernism to provoke a new historical consciousness. Afterimage presents a theory of posttraumatic film based on the encounter between cinema and the Holocaust. Locating its origin in the vivid shock of wartime footage, Afterimage focuses on a group of crucial documentary and fiction films that were pivotal to the spread of this cinematic form across different nations and genres.
Joshua Hirsch explores the changes in documentary brought about by cinema verite, culminating in Shoah. He then turns to teh appearance of a fictional posttraumatic cinema, tracing its development through the vivid flashbacks in Resnais' Hiroshima, mon amour to the portrayal of pain and memory in Pawnbroker. He excavates a posttraumatic autobiography in three early films by the Hungarian Istvan Szabo. Finally, Hirsch examines the effects of postmodernism on posttraumatic cinema, looking at Schindler's List and a work about a different form of historical trauma, History and Memory, a videotape dealing with the internment of Japanese Americans during the Second World War.
Sweeping in its scope, Afterimage presents a new way of thinking about film and history, trauma and its representation.
The Ambiguity of Virtue
Bernard Wasserstein Harvard University Press, 2014 Library of Congress D804.6.W3713 2014 | Dewey Decimal 940.531809492352
Working with the Nazi-appointed Jewish Council in Amsterdam, Gertrude van Tijn helped many Jews escape. But she faced difficult moral choices. Some called her a heroine; others, a collaborator. Bernard Wasserstein's haunting narrative draws readers into this twilight world, to expose the terrible dilemmas confronting Jews under Nazi occupation.
During the 1990s and early 2000s in Europe, more than fifty historical commissions were created to confront, discuss, and document the genocide of the Holocaust and to address some of its unresolved injustices. Amending the Past offers the first in-depth account of these commissions, examining the complexities of reckoning with past atrocities and large-scale human rights violations.
Alexander Karn analyzes more than a dozen Holocaust commissions—in Germany, Switzerland, France, Poland, Austria, Latvia, Lithuania, and elsewhere—in a comparative framework, situating each in the context of past and present politics, to evaluate their potential for promoting justice and their capacity for bringing the perspectives of rival groups more closely together. Karn also evaluates the media coverage these commissions received and probes their public reception from multiple angles.
Arguing that historical commissions have been underused as a tool for conflict management, Karn develops a program for historical mediation and moral reparation that can deepen democratic commitment and strengthen human rights in both transitional regimes and existing liberal states.
... And Heaven Shed No Tears
Henry Armin Herzog University of Wisconsin Press, 2005 Library of Congress DS135.P63H494 2005 | Dewey Decimal 940.5318092
Henry Herzog survived the liquidation of the Rzeszow ghetto in Poland and endured terrible hardships in forced labor camps. He documents the increasing severity of Nazi rule in Rzeszow and the complicity of the Jewish council (the Judenrat) and Jewish police in the round-ups for deportation to the Belzec concentration camp. One of these deportations took his parents to their deaths. His brothers were caught, tortured, and killed by the Gestapo. Herzog and his sister escaped to Hungary where—although she found refuge—he was betrayed, arrested, and finally put on a train to the concentration camps. Escaping by jumping off the train and fleeing into the Tatra Mountains, he joined a group of Russian partisans to fight the Nazis.
To lend weight to his charge that the public school teacher has been betrayed and gravity to his indictment of the educational establishment for that betrayal, Jurgen Herbst goes back to the beginnings of teacher education in America in the 1830s and traces its evolution up to the 1920s, by which time the essential damage had been done.
Initially, attempts were made to upgrade public school teaching to a genuine profession, but that ideal was gradually abandoned. In its stead, with the advent of newly emerging graduate schools of education in the early decades of the twentieth century, came the so-called professionalization of public education. At the expense of the training of elementary school teachers (mostly women), teacher educators shifted their attention to the turning out of educational "specialists" (mostly men)—administrators, faculty members at normal schools and teachers colleges, adult education teachers, and educational researchers.
Ultimately a history of the neglect of the American public school teacher, And Sadly Teach ends with a plea and a message that ring loud and clear. The plea: that the current reform proposals for American teacher education—the Carnegie and the Holmes reports—be heeded. The message: that the key to successful school reform lies in educating teacher’s true professionals and in acknowledging them as such in their classrooms.
Of the 6,000,000 Jews who perished in the Holocaust, at least 160,000 were Sephardim: descendants of Jews exiled from Spain in 1492. Although the horror of the camps was recorded by members of the Sephardic community, their suffering at the hands of Nazi Germany remained virtually unknown to the rest of the world. With this collection, their long silence is broken.
And the World Stood Silent gathers the Sephardim's French, Greek, Italian, and Judeo-Spanish poems, accompanied by English translations, about their long journey to the concentration and extermination camps. Isaac Jack Lévy also surveys the 2,000-year history of the Sephardim and discusses their poetry in relation to major religious, historical, and philosophical questions.
Wrenchingly conveying the pathos and suffering of the Jewish community during World War II, And the World Stood Silent is invaluable as a historical account and as a documentary source.
And Yet I Still Have Dreams is a departure from many Holocaust memoirs and biographies. Based on interviews with "Alex," an anonymous survivor of the Warsaw Ghetto and three concentration camps, the story follows him from his assimilated childhood to his coming to terms with his memories of the Holocaust as an older man. Alex is angry, pugnacious, and contemptuous of the stereotypes found in some survivor literature and honest about the shortcomings of other works.
The book provides a connection to seldom discussed aspects of the Holocaust: the gulf between rich and poor Jews and how this translated into everyday survival; the refusal by Alex to see himself or Jews in general as heroes or victims; his own self-absorption as a teen in the ghetto; and his "priviliged" family's near-indifference to the suffering of those around them. Alex paints a picture of complex and diverse Jewish society in prewar Poland, revealing how, many years later and despite his determine to leave it in the past, the burdens of memory--and the dreams--linger.
Lawrence A. Coben University of Alabama Press, 2011 Library of Congress DS135.U43D543 2007 | Dewey Decimal 947.76
A rare view of a childhood in a European ghetto.
Anna Spector was born in 1905 in Korsun, a Ukrainian town on the Ros River, eighty miles south of Kiev. Held by Poland until 1768 and annexed by the Tsar in 1793 Korsun and its fluid ethnic population were characteristic of the Pale of Settlement in Eastern Europe: comprised of Ukrainians, Cossacks, Jews and other groups living uneasily together in relationships punctuated by violence. Anna’s father left Korsun in 1912 to immigrate to America, and Anna left in 1919, having lived through the Great War, the Bolshevik Revolution, and part of the ensuing civil war, as well as several episodes of more or less organized pogroms—deadly anti-Jewish riots begun by various invading military detachments during the Russian Civil War and joined by some of Korsun’s peasants.
In the early 1990s Anna met Lawrence A. Coben, a medical doctor seeking information about the shtetls to recapture a sense of his own heritage. Anna had near-perfect recall of her daily life as a girl and young woman in the last days in one of those historic but doomed communities. Her rare account, the product of some 300 interviews, is valuable because most personal memoirs of ghetto life are written by men. Also, very often, Christian neighbors appear in ghetto accounts as a stolid peasant mass assembled on market days, as destructive mobs, or as an arrogant and distant collection of government officials and nobility. Anna’s story is exceptionally rich in a sense of the Korsun Christians as friends, neighbors, and individuals.
Although the Jewish communities in Eastern Europe are now virtually gone, less than 100 years ago they counted a population of millions. The firsthand records we have from that lost world are therefore important, and this view from the underrecorded lives of women and the young is particularly welcome.
Arrows in the Dark recounts and analyzes the many efforts of aid and rescue made by the Jewish community of Palestine—the Yishuv—to provide assistance to European Jews facing annihilation by the Nazis. Tuvia Friling provides a detailed account of the activities carried out at the behest of David Ben-Gurion and the Yishuv leadership, from daring attempts to extract Jews from Nazi-occupied territory, to proposals for direct negotiations with the Nazis. Through its rich array of detail and primary documentation, this book shows the wide scope and complexity of Yishuv activity at this time, refuting the idea that Ben-Gurion and the Yishuv ignored the plight of European Jews during the Holocaust.
Art, Culture, and Media Under the Third Reich explores the ways in which the Nazis used art and media to portray their country as the champion of Kultur and civilization. Rather than focusing strictly on the role of the arts in state-supported propaganda, this volume contributes to Holocaust studies by revealing how multiple domains of cultural activity served to conceptually dehumanize Jews and other groups.
Contributors address nearly every facet of the arts and mass media under the Third Reich—efforts to define degenerate music and art; the promotion of race hatred through film and public assemblies; views of the racially ideal garden and landscape; race as portrayed in popular literature; the reception of art and culture abroad; the treatment of exiled artists; and issues of territory, conquest, and appeasement. Familiar subjects such as the Munich Accord, Nuremberg Party Rally Grounds, and Lebensraum (Living Space) are considered from a new perspective. Anyone studying the history of Nazi Germany or the role of the arts in nationalist projects will benefit from this book.
Richard A. Etlin
Karen A. Fiss
Paul B. Jaskot
Robert Jan van Pelt
Joachim Wolschke-Bulmahn and Gert Gröning
Finalist for 2012 National Jewish Book Award in the Holocaust category
David Koker's diary is one of the most notable accounts of life in a German concentration camp written by a Jew during the years of the Holocaust. First brought to attention when the Dutch historian Jacob Presser-Koker's history teacher in high school-quoted from Koker's diary in his monumental history, published in English as The Destruction of the Dutch Jews (1968), the diary itself became a part of the Dutch literary canon when it was published in 1977 as Dagboek geschreven in Vught (Diary Written in Vught). It has remained in print ever since, and is notable for its literary qualities, weaving poetry and powerful observations of the emotional life of a camp prisoner, including reflections after an in-person visit by Heinrich Himmler. Surprisingly, the book has never before been translated into English.
During his time in the Vught concentration camp, the 21-year-old David recorded on an almost daily basis his observations, thoughts, and feelings. He mercilessly probed the abyss that opened around him and, at times, within himself. David's diary covers almost a year, both charting his daily life in Vught as it developed over time and tracing his spiritual evolution as a writer. Until early February 1944, David was able to smuggle some 73,000 words from the camp to his best friend Karel van het Reve, a non-Jew.
With an informative introduction, annotation, and list of dramatis personae by Robert Jan van Pelt, At the Edge of the Abyss offers an immediate and wholly original look into the life of a concentration camp prisoner.
Few places in the world carry as heavy a burden of history as Auschwitz. Recognized and remembered as the most prominent site of Nazi crimes, Auschwitz has had tremendous symbolic weight in the postwar world.
Auschwitz, Poland, and the Politics of Commemoration is a history of the Auschwitz memorial site in the years of the Polish People’s Republic. Since 1945, Auschwitz has functioned as a memorial and museum. Its monuments, exhibitions, and public spaces have attracted politicians, pilgrims, and countless participants in public demonstrations and commemorative events.
Jonathan Huener’s study begins with the liberation of the camp and traces the history of the State Museum at Auschwitz from its origins immediately after the war until the 1980s, analyzing the landscape, exhibitions, and public events at the site.
Based on extensive research and illustrated with archival photographs, Auschwitz, Poland, and the Politics of Commemoration accounts for the development and durability of a Polish commemorative idiom at Auschwitz. Emphasis on Polish national “martyrdom” at Auschwitz, neglect of the Shoah as the most prominent element of the camp’s history, political instrumentalization of the grounds and exhibitions—these were some of the more controversial aspects of the camp’s postwar landscape.
Professor Huener locates these and other public manifestations of memory at Auschwitz in the broad scope of Polish history, in the specific context of postwar Polish politics and culture, and against the background of Polish-Jewish relations. Auschwitz, Poland, and the Politics of Commemoration will be of interest to scholars, students, and general readers of the history of modern Poland and the Holocaust.