front cover of Auschwitz, Poland, and the Politics of Commemoration, 1945–1979
Auschwitz, Poland, and the Politics of Commemoration, 1945–1979
Jonathan Huener
Ohio University Press, 2003

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.

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Beyond Berlin
Twelve German Cities Confront the Nazi Past
Gavriel D. Rosenfeld and Paul B. Jaskot, Editors
University of Michigan Press, 2015

Beyond Berlin breaks new ground in the ongoing effort to understand how memorials, buildings, and other spaces have figured in Germany's confrontation with its Nazi past. The contributors challenge reigning views of Germany's postwar memory work by examining how specific urban centers apart from the nation's capital have wrestled with their respective Nazi legacies. A wide range of West and East German cities is profiled in the volume: prominent metropolises like Hamburg, dynamic regional centers like Dresden, gritty industrial cities like Wolfsburg, and idyllic rural towns like Quedlinburg. In employing historical, art historical, anthropological, and geographical methodologies to examine these and other important urban centers, the volume's case studies shed new light upon the complex ways in which the confrontation with the Nazi past has directly shaped the German urban landscape since the end of the Second World War.

"Beyond Berlin is one of the most fascinating, deeply probing collections ever published on Germany's ongoing confrontation with its Nazi past. Its editors, Gavriel Rosenfeld and Paul Jaskot, have taken the exploration of Germany's urban memorial landscape to its highest level yet."
---James E. Young, Professor and Chair, Department of Judaic and Near Eastern Studies, University of Massachusetts Amherst, and author of The Texture of Memory and At Memory's Edge

"This is a top-notch collection of essays that positions itself in the populated field of memory studies by bringing together original contributions representing the best of new scholarship on architecture, urban design, monuments, and memory in East and West Germany. Taken together, the essays remind readers that the Nazi past is always present when German architects, urban planners, and politicians make decisions to tear down, rebuild, restore, and memorialize."
---S. Jonathan Wiesen, Department of History, Southern Illinois University, Carbondale

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front cover of Lessons and Legacies XV
Lessons and Legacies XV
The Holocaust; Global Perspectives, National Narratives, Local Contexts
Erin McGlothlin; Aviroam Patt
Northwestern University Press, 2024
The fifteenth volume in the Lessons & Legacies series, featuring multidisciplinary research in the Holocaust and Jewish cultural history on the theme of Global Perspectives and National Narratives. The fourteen chapters included in this volume manifest three broad categories: history, literature, and memory. These chapters continue the recent trend in Holocaust Studies of a focus on local history, integrating specific regional and national narratives into a more global approach to the event. Newer studies have continued to incorporate what was once termed the periphery into a more global examination of the experiences of Jewish refugees in flight to Latin America, Africa, and the Soviet Union. At the same time, very specific local studies deepen our knowledge of the mechanics of genocide, along with the experiences of refugees in flight, and the subsequent dimensions of Holocaust memory and representation. 

New research on Holocaust literature continues to unearth unexamined texts from the period of the war itself, which can shed light on Jewish responses to persecution and strategies for survival. The study of Holocaust testimonies continues to grapple with the challenge of language: how to convey through the limits of human language the depths of barbarity to an audience that could never fully understand what they had not personally experienced. Likewise, literary studies continue to incorporate texts that were once considered outside the standard canon of Holocaust literature, such as science fiction and children’s literature.

The tension between local and global perspectives can also be seen quite clearly in what the volume's editors understand by the term “memory studies,” or new approaches to research on museums and memorials. The very specific nature of collective memory on the national level continues to be the site of the contested “politics of memory.” A number of the chapters in this volume engage with the conflict of monuments and memorials, museums’ attempts to resolve provenance issues, questions around the ethics of Holocaust tourism, and the inclusion of new technologies and digital survivors into the memorial landscape.
 
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Memory Passages
Holocaust Memorials in the United States and Germany
Natasha Goldman
Temple University Press, 2020

For decades, artists and architects have struggled to relate to the Holocaust in visual form, resulting in memorials that feature a diversity of aesthetic strategies. In Memory Passages, Natasha Goldman analyzes both previously-overlooked and internationally-recognized Holocaust memorials in the United States and Germany from the postwar period to the present, drawing on many historical documents for the first time. From the perspectives of visual culture and art history, the book examines changing attitudes toward the Holocaust and the artistic choices that respond to it.

The book introduces lesser-known sculptures, such as Nathan Rapoport’s Monument to the Six Million Jewish Martyrs in Philadelphia, as well as internationally-acclaimed works, such as Peter Eisenman’s Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe in Berlin. Other artists examined include Will Lammert, Richard Serra, Joel Shapiro, Gerson Fehrenbach, Margit Kahl, and Andy Goldsworthy.Archival documents and interviews with commissioners, survivors, and artists reveal the conversations and decisions that have shaped Holocaust memorials.

Memory Passages suggests that memorial designers challenge visitors to navigate and activate spaces to engage with history and memory by virtue of walking or meandering. This book will be valuable for anyone teaching—or seeking to better understand—the Holocaust.

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front cover of On European Ground
On European Ground
Alan Cohen
University of Chicago Press, 2001
A profound visual meditation on the trauma that scars twentieth-century Europe, Alan Cohen's On European Ground considers the battlefields of World War I, the Nazi death camps, and the Berlin Wall, and records the distance between what we remember about these places and what we can still observe in them today. By walking these sites and photographing the very ground in which their history has dissolved, Cohen opens a space for reflection on their complex gravity and legacy.

Cohen's images achieve a solemn beauty even as they engage history at its most topical. Pictures of trenches and bunkers at the battlefields of Somme and Verdun explore the tension between the violence of the past and the inscrutability of its remnants. Photographs from the grounds of Dachau and Auschwitz solicit a provocative dialogue between the ordinariness of these sites today and their haunting memory. They teach us, as the New Art Examiner notes, "that the living perceptual connection to the Holocaust is vanishing." Images of the Berlin Wall show only the footprint of the barricade that once separated two hostile ideologies. They record the physical erosion and looming disappearance of the Wall while capturing its reappearance as a memorialized abstraction.

Accompanying the photographs in On European Ground are essays by Sander Gilman and Jonathan Bordo, as well as an interview with Cohen by critic Roberta Smith of the New York Times. The essays present both an introduction to and aesthetic analysis of Cohen's work, while the interview discusses the intractable problems of history and memory that his photographs so uniquely capture.
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front cover of Probing the Ethics of Holocaust Culture
Probing the Ethics of Holocaust Culture
Claudio Fogu, Wulf Kansteiner, and Todd Presner
Harvard University Press, 2016

Depictions of the Holocaust in history, literature, and film became a focus of intense academic debate in the 1980s and 1990s. Today, with the passing of the eyewitness generation and the rise of comparative genocide studies, the Holocaust’s privileged place not only in scholarly discourse but across Western society has been called into question.

Probing the Ethics of Holocaust Culture is a searching reappraisal of the debates and controversies that have shaped Holocaust studies over a quarter century. This landmark volume brings international scholars of the founding generation of Holocaust studies into conversation with a new generation of historians, artists, and writers who have challenged the limits of representation through their scholarly and cultural practices. Focusing on the public memorial cultures, testimonial narratives, and artifacts of cultural memory and history generated by Holocaust remembrance, the volume examines how Holocaust culture has become institutionalized, globalized, and variously contested. Organized around three interlocking themes—the stakes of narrative, the remediation of the archive, and the politics of exceptionality—the essays in this volume explore the complex ethics surrounding the discourses, artifacts, and institutions of Holocaust remembrance.

From contrasting viewpoints and, in particular, from the multiple perspectives of genocide studies, the authors question if and why the Holocaust should remain the ultimate test case for ethics and a unique reference point for how we understand genocide and crimes against humanity.

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