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‘Beyond words’: representing the ‘Holocaust by bullets’

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Abstract

This article considers the reasons for the paucity, by contrast to the literature of the wartime ghettos and camps, of cultural representations of the Einsatzgruppen murders. It does so by analysing those representations that do exist, in the form of memoirs, poetry and fiction by eyewitnesses and survivors, as well as a diary kept by a bystander to these mass shootings. The article concludes by asking whether very nature of these murders means that they are all but unrepresentable.

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... For example, in some countries (United States and United Kingdom) that historically were among the Allies, there may be more emphasis on the role of the liberators than, for example, on the events experienced by the countries occupied by Nazi Germany. Similarly, the history of the resistance to German occupation in Western European countries, for instance, may be given more emphasis than the mass killings committed in Eastern Europe (the so-called 'Holocaust by bullets') (Lawson, 2017;Vice, 2019). Finally, it is important to remember that conflicting cultural memories within the same country can lead to approaching the history and memory of the Holocaust in different ways, possibly with distorting outcomes depending on the political or ideological agendas that may sometimes underlie a specific memory policy. ...
Technical Report
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Executive summary The context. Abuse, excuse, misrepresentation and manipulation of the history of the Holocaust are far from a fringe phenomenon. They have an international dimension and considerable weight (e.g., governments that seek to minimize their historical responsibility, conspiracy theorists who accuse Jews of exaggerating their suffering for financial gain, and online users who make use of imagery and language associated with the Holocaust for political, ideological, or commercial purposes unrelated to its history). As for social media, while their rise has enabled individuals and groups to connect on a global level and to gain instant access to information and knowledge, they have also allowed dissemination and spread of hateful content, including antisemitism and Holocaust denial and distortion, at an unprecedented rate. The problem. Although agencies and institutions concerned with Holocaust education and remembrance are well aware of the growing role of digital communication, there is little understanding of how small- and medium-sized Holocaust museums and memorials use social media to disseminate knowledge and memory of the Holocaust to the general public and to counter manipulation and distortion of Holocaust history. Both academic research and stakeholders have so far focused on the mission and practices of major Holocaust agencies, while neglecting to investigate the potential and critical issues that small and medium-sized museums and memorials face in both disseminating historical content and dealing with the phenomenon of distortion on social media. The contribution. This project focuses on a group of Holocaust museums and memorials located in two countries – Italy and Germany – in order to investigate their use of the main social media - Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube - for the purposes of disseminating historical content, carrying out commemorative practices and countering the spread of Holocaust distortion. The project adopts an approach that conceives social media as a positive technology both for detecting good practices and for exploring critical issues in the very use of social media themselves. The approach is based on an investigative method that employs a range of quantitative and qualitative research tools. The idea is to analyse how museums and memorials use social media to expand Holocaust knowledge and memory, especially among the younger generations, and to activate groups of users and co-creators involved in user-generated content to protect the facts about the Holocaust and mitigate the challenges of distortion. The results. The various analyses carried out in the project have revealed a number of good practices and limitations that can currently be found in the social media profiles of the surveyed museums and memorials. Furthermore, although Holocaust remembrance has become a global, transcultural phenomenon, especially within European countries, national differences also exist between different local environments. The results achieved have made it possible to identify a number of current limitations, such as a mismatch between scholarly debates and public knowledge, limited bi-directional interaction with social media users, and the provision of materials that are not generally suitable for younger generations. A number of recommendations and guidelines have also been produced, such as further expanding historical knowledge of the Holocaust, investigating users’ preconceptions and biases, promoting the digital culture of remembrance, actively involving the follower/fan communities, and networking between entities with limited resources to share good practices and plan joint activities. These are all measures that Holocaust museums and memorials may adopt to encourage the development of forms of Holocaust knowledge and remembrance that are participatory, innovative and critical.
... Ad esempio, in alcuni Paesi (stati Uniti e regno Unito) che storicamente facevano parte degli alleati può essere data maggiore enfasi al ruolo dei liberatori rispetto, ad esempio, agli eventi vissuti dai Paesi occupati dalla Germania nazista. allo stesso modo, la storia della resistenza all'occupazione tedesca nei paesi dell'Europa occidentale, ad esempio, può essere messa in maggiore evidenza rispetto alle uccisioni di massa commesse nell'Europa orientale (la cosiddetta "Shoah delle pallottole") (Lawson, 2017;Vice, 2019). Infine, è importante ricordare che memorie culturali contrastanti all'interno di uno stesso Paese possono portare ad affrontare la storia e la memoria della shoah in modi diversi, con esiti potenzialmente distorti a seconda delle agende politiche o ideologiche che possono essere alla base di una specifica politica della memoria. ...
Technical Report
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Abusi, scuse, travisamenti e manipolazioni della storia della Shoah si possono riscontrare a tutti i livelli della società. Si tratta di un fenomeno tutt'altro che marginale: se ne possono trovare esempi nei governi che cercano di minimizzare la loro responsabilità storica, nei teorici della cospirazione che accusano gli ebrei di esagerare le loro sofferenze a scopo di lucro e negli utenti online che fanno uso di immagini e linguaggio associati alla Shoah per scopi politici, ideologici o commerciali che non hanno legami con la sua storia. Indipendentemente dalla sua forma, la distorsione della Shoah e i suoi potenziali effetti diretti o indiretti - antisemitismo, negazione della Shoah, miti cospirativi e nazionalismo estremo - hanno una dimensione e una rilevanza internazionale e pertanto richiedono una risposta internazionale. Per quanto riguarda i social media, se da un lato la loro ascesa ha permesso a individui e gruppi di connettersi a livello globale e di avere accesso istantaneo a informazioni e conoscenze, dall'altro hanno consentito l’esponenziale diffusione e la divulgazione di contenuti carichi d’odio, tra cui l'antisemitismo e la negazione e distorsione della Shoah. Il presente rapporto intende fornire ai musei e ai memoriali della Shoah una serie di linee guida e raccomandazioni per contrastare il fenomeno della distorsione della Shoah sui canali dei social media. Poiché queste istituzioni si configurano come pilastri sempre più importanti contro la distorsione della Shoah, esse non solo hanno molteplici opportunità di salvaguardare la documentazione storica ma hanno anche bisogno di aiuto per affrontare le sfide poste da coloro che distorcono la verità. In quest'ottica, il rapporto evidenzia diverse azioni che i memoriali e i musei della Shoah possono intraprendere per contribuire a ridurre l'impatto delle diverse forme di distorsione della Shoah sui social media. A differenza della negazione della Shoah, cioè il tentativo di cancellare la Shoah dalla storia, la distorsione della Shoah giustifica, minimizza o travisa la Shoah in una varietà di modi utilizzando vari mezzi di comunicazione non sempre facilmente identificabili. Mentre vi è un ampio consenso sul fatto che la negazione della Shoah sia alimentata dall'antisemitismo, la distorsione della Shoah è considerata una forma di antisemitismo secondario o una manipolazione della storia della Shoah e della sua memoria per vari scopi. Sebbene la narrazione storica irresponsabile e abusiva possa riguardare qualsiasi evento storico, oggi il numero di mutazioni e distorsioni della storia della Shoah sta crescendo e sta progressivamente assumendo diverse forme dilaganti. Poiché non esistono misure uniche e generali contro tutte le forme di distorsione, dovranno essere attuate diverse azioni specifiche a seconda del contesto geografico o sociale.
... For example, in some countries (united states and united Kingdom) that historically were among the Allies, there may be more emphasis on the role of the liberators than, for example, on the events experienced by the countries occupied by Nazi Germany. Similarly, the history of the resistance to German occupation in Western European countries, for instance, may be given more emphasis than the mass killings committed in Eastern Europe (the so-called 'Holocaust by bullets') (Lawson, 2017;Vice, 2019). Finally, it is important to remember that conflicting cultural memories within the same country can lead to approaching the history and memory of the Holocaust in different ways, possibly with distorting outcomes depending on the political or ideological agendas that may sometimes underlie a specific memory policy. ...
Technical Report
Full-text available
Abuse, excuse, misrepresentation and manipulation of the history of the Holocaust can be found at all levels of society. This is far from a fringe phenomenon: examples may be found in governments that seek to minimize their historical responsibility, conspiracy theorists who accuse Jews of exaggerating their suffering for financial gain, and online users who make use of imagery and language associated with the Holocaust for political, ideological, or commercial purposes unrelated to its history. Regardless of its form, Holocaust distortion and its potential direct or indirect effects – antisemitism, Holocaust denial, conspiracy myths and extreme nationalism – have an international dimension and relevance, and require an international response. As for social media, while their rise has enabled individuals and groups to connect on a global level and to have instant access to information and knowledge, they have also allowed spread and dissemination of hateful content, including antisemitism and Holocaust denial and distortion at an unprecedented rate. This report aims to provide Holocaust museums and memorials with a set of guidelines and recommendations to counter the phenomenon of Holocaust distortion on social media channels. As these institutions are increasingly important bulwarks against Holocaust distortion, they have manifold opportunities for safeguarding the historical record and need help to face the challenges posed by those who distort the truth. In this light, the report highlights several actions that Holocaust memorials and museums can take to help reduce the impact of different forms of Holocaust distortion on social media. Unlike Holocaust denial – the attempt to erase the Holocaust from history – Holocaust distortion excuses, minimizes, or misrepresents the Holocaust in a variety of ways and through various media which are not always readily identifiable. While there is broad agreement that Holocaust denial is fuelled by antisemitism, Holocaust distortion is either considered a form of secondary antisemitism or manipulation of Holocaust history and its memory for various purposes. Although irresponsible and abusive history may affect any historical event, today the number of mutations and distortions of Holocaust history are growing and are progressively assuming diverse rampant forms. As there are no single, general measures against all forms of distortion, several specific actions will have to be implemented depending on the geographical or social context.
... In this sense, it would be desirable for the type of content to be expanded to include not only the entire timespan of the Holocaust's development -1933-1945 -but also a range of content that does not limit the treatment of the historical events of the Holocaust to extermination by gas chambers. In this light, it is important to consider the risks that the centrality of "Auschwitz" may cause in conveying a reductive view of the complex phenomenon of the Holocaust (Pettigrew and Karayianni, 2021), at the expense of equally pervasive events such as the so-called "Holocaust by bullets" (Vice, 2019). Finally, if we consider the phenomena of distortion that the recent use of social media also helps to spread, it is also important to recognise that the use of keywords such as "Auschwitz" and "Holocaust" tends to attract more clicks than others (IHRA, 2021). ...
Conference Paper
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The use of digital technologies and social media has become an increasingly significant means for engagement in many fields, and that of cultural heritage is no exception. Specifically, Holocaust museums have long been committed to providing historical and educational content to their audiences, and to this end digital communication channels and social media in particular figure among the means employed. Despite this, relatively few research studies have investigated the potential of Holocaust museums' use of social media as new memory ecologies. This preliminary study investigates how three prominent Holocaust museums (Yad Vashem in Israel, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington D.C., and the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum in Poland) use Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to enhance knowledge and understanding of historical and remembrance events among the general public. Using a mixed-methods approach, we analysed the museums’ social media profiles on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to investigate the topics and phrases that appear most often in the posted contents. Through latent semantic analyses, we determined the words most frequently used by the three museums themselves and within the three social media channels. Additionally, we employed topic modelling to determine underlying themes. This approach allowed us to identify possible similarities and differences between the museums’ communication output and their social media channels. Moreover, to illustrate these potential similarities and differences, we also conducted 2-Mode network analyses. Our results show that the museums’ use of each social media channel exhibits different types of topical foci. For example, Twitter posts specifically include terminology on the Auschwitz camp, Facebook communication is more centred on the “exhibition” and the “Nazi” regime, while on Instagram the combination of “holocaust” and “photo” can often be found. Furthermore, similarities were also found, namely that the topic of “Auschwitz” is omnipresent and that all museums appear to focus on the 1941–1945 timeframe. The study has implications for the kind of historical knowledge and contemporary information that Holocaust museums and memorials contribute to disseminating on their social media profiles.
... In the topics summarized above, there are at least a few factors that need to be stressed. First of all, unlike other studies that have reported a prevalence of "Auschwitz" discourse at the expense of other topics related to the so-called Final Solution (Pettigrew & Karayianni, 2019), in this cohort of studies there is a balance of "Auschwitz" discourse and other global discourses of the Holocaust such as the "Holocaust by bullets" (Vice, 2019). However, what distinguishes many of these studies is a focus on local languages, which reflects the typically Eastern European milieu of "national intimacy" (Imre, 2009) that strengthens community bonds between users and "counters" alternative memories dealt with by other groups. ...
Article
Along with advances in communication technology that are making new forms of historical memorialization and education available, social media are researched as valuable tools for supporting forms of digital memory and for engaging students and teachers about historical knowledge and moral education. This study aims to map the current state of Holocaust remembrance and Holocaust education and to identify main topics of research in the two areas. It adopts a mixed-method approach that combines qualitative analysis with bibliometric approaches to review publications that use social media for digital memory and history education about the Holocaust. Results based on 28 publications reveal several research topics and that, despite some common theoretical references, the two subfields mostly rely on separate conceptual backgrounds. While Holocaust remembrance is a well-established research field, there are few studies and a lack of theoretical elaboration about social media use for teaching and learning about the Holocaust.
... This is reflected in the dominant popular perception of the Holocaust in which Auschwitz and related imagery represents an icon of the spatiality of the Jewish genocide [71][72][73]. Whether the centrality of "Auschwitz" overshadows-and hence inhibits-topical discourses on final solution topics that are less familiar to the wider public is an issue worthy of more in-depth future research, as is whether it poses problems of the overall paucity of Holocaust remembrance, such as the Holocaust by bullets [74]. ...
Article
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With the passing of the last testimonies, Holocaust remembrance and Holocaust education progressively rely on digital technologies to engage people in immersive, simulative, and even counterfactual memories of the Holocaust. This preliminary study investigates how three prominent Holocaust museums use social media to enhance the general public’s knowledge and understanding of historical and remembrance events. A mixed-method approach based on a combination of social media analytics and latent semantic analysis was used to investigate the Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube profiles of Yad Vashem, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, and the Auschwitz–Birkenau Memorial and Museum. This social media analysis adopted a combination of metrics and was focused on how these social media profiles engage the public at both the page-content and relational levels, while their communication strategies were analysed in terms of generated content, interactivity, and popularity. Latent semantic analysis was used to analyse the most frequently used hashtags and words to investigate what topics and phrases appear most often in the content posted by the three museums. Overall, the results show that the three organisations are more active on Twitter than on Facebook and Instagram, with the Auschwitz–Birkenau Museum and Memorial occupying a prominent position in Twitter discourse while Yad Vashem and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum had stronger presences on YouTube. Although the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum exhibits some interactivity with its Facebook fan community, there is a general tendency to use social media as a one-way broadcast mode of communication. Finally, the analysis of terms and hashtags revealed the centrality of “Auschwitz” as a broad topic of Holocaust discourse, overshadowing other topics, especially those related to recent events.
Article
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This article examines two memoirs of authors who indirectly witnessed the horrendous crimes committed by Nazi Einsatzgruppen squads in Babi Yar where more than 33,000 of the Jewish inhabitants of Kiev were brutally murdered on 29–30 September 1941: Anatoli Kuznetsov’s Babi Yar: A Document in the Form of a Novel and Ziama Trubakov’s The Riddle of Babi Yar: The True Story Told by a Survivor of the Mass Murders in Kiev, 1941–1943. Starting from Kuznetsov’s final remarks on the power of memory that will never fade even if only few witnesses or survivors remained to tell the story, I will show what types of witnessing occur in both memoirs: the two narrators use both “ear-witnessing” (Susan Vice’s term), eye-witnessing, and “flesh-witnessing” (Yuval Noah Harari’s term) in the structure of their books and, following Amos Goldberg’s model for first-person Holocaust memoirs and diaries, I will show how these three types of witnessing unfold the story of Babi Yar.
Article
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This article discusses some of the ambivalences that arise in Western efforts to represent Eastern Europe in the context of Holocaust memory. Focusing on German-language literature, I examine how tropes of boundlessness, violence and contamination derived from the pre-WWI colonialist vision of 'the East' reassert themselves in various eras of representation, including recent works inspired by contemporary historiography. While the embrace of 'discoveries' about the history of the Holocaust in Eastern Europe signals an appetite among the German-speaking public to do away with historical ignorance, these discursive continuities suggest that the appetite for alterity is undiminished. The adoption of the term “Bloodlands” from Timothy Snyder's book of the same name is a case study in how fresh perspectives on Holocaust history can be decontextualized and co-opted, contributing to an imaginary landscape that is remarkably unchanged in the German context.
Technical Report
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FÜR WEN SIND DIESE LEITLINIEN UND EMPFEHLUNGEN GEDACHT? Dieser Bericht soll Holocaust-Museen und -Gedenkstätten eine Reihe von Leitlinien und Empfehlungen an die Hand geben, um dem Phänomen der Holocaust-Verzerrung auf Social-Media- Kanälen zu begegnen. Da diese Einrichtungen zunehmend wichtige Eckpfeiler gegen die Verzerrung des Holocausts darstellen, haben sie vielfältige Herausforderungen, aber auch Möglichkeiten, die historische Überlieferung zu schützen, und benötigen Unterstützung, um den Herausforderungen, die von denjenigen ausgehen, die die Wahrheit verzerren, zu begegnen. Vor diesem Hintergrund hebt der Bericht mehrere Maßnahmen hervor, die Gedenkstätten und Museen ergreifen können, um die Auswirkungen der verschiedenen Formen der Holocaust-Verzerrung in den sozialen Medien zu verringern. WARUM IST DIE VERZERRUNG DES HOLOCAUSTS EIN ANLIEGEN DER ZIVILGESELLSCHAFT? Missbrauch, Ausreden, falsche Darstellungen und Manipulationen der Geschichte des Holocausts sind auf allen Ebenen der Gesellschaft zu finden. Dabei handelt es sich keineswegs um ein Randphänomen: Beispiele finden sich bei Regierungen, die versuchen, ihre historische Verantwortung zu minimieren, bei Verschwörungstheoretikern, welche jüdische Gemeinschaften mit Anschuldigungen konfrontieren ihr Leid zu ihrem Vorteil zu übertreiben, und bei Online-NutzerInnen, welche die mit dem Holocaust assoziierte Bilder und Sprache für politische, ideologische oder kommerzielle Zwecke verwenden, die nichts mit der Geschichte zu tun haben. Unabhängig von ihrer Form haben die Verzerrung des Holocausts und ihre potenziellen direkten oder indirekten Auswirkungen - Antisemitismus, Holocaust-Leugnung, Verschwörungsmythen und extremer Nationalismus - eine internationale Dimension und Relevanz, welche eine internationale Reaktion erfordern. Was die sozialen Medien anbelangt, so haben diese zwar Einzelpersonen und Gruppen die Möglichkeit gegeben, sich auf globaler Ebene zu vernetzen und sofortigen Zugang zu Informationen und Wissen zu erhalten, aber sie haben auch die Verbreitung von hasserfüllten Inhalten, einschließlich Antisemitismus, Holocaust-Leugnung und -Verzerrung in einem noch nie dagewesenen Ausmaß ermöglicht. WAS SIND DIE HERAUSFORDERUNGEN BEI DER BEKÄMPFUNG DER HOLOCAUST-VERZERRUNG? Im Gegensatz zur Holocaust-Leugnung - dem Versuch, den Holocaust aus der Geschichte zu löschen - wird bei der Holocaust-Verzerrung, welche nicht immer leicht zu identifizieren ist, der Holocaust auf unterschiedliche Weise in Medien entschuldigt, verharmlost oder falsch dargestellt. Während weitgehend Einigkeit darüber besteht, dass die Leugnung des Holocausts durch Antisemitismus genährt wird, wird die Verzerrung des Holocausts entweder als eine Form des “sekundären Antisemitismus” oder als Manipulation der Geschichte des Holocausts und seiner Erinnerung zu unterschiedlichen Zwecken betrachtet. Obwohl missbräuchliche Geschichtsdarstellungen jedes historische Ereignis betreffen können, nimmt die Zahl Verzerrungen der Geschichte des Holocausts heute zu, wobei verschiedene Formen der Verzerrungen identifiziert werden können. Da es keine einzelne, generelle Maßnahme gegen alle Formen der Verzerrung gibt, müssen je nach geografischem oder sozialem Kontext verschiedene, spezifische Maßnahmen ergriffen werden. WAS KÖNNEN GEDENKSTÄTTEN UND MUSEEN TUN, UM DER VERZERRUNG DES HOLOCAUSTS IN DEN SOZIALEN MEDIEN ENTGEGENZUWIRKEN? Die Frage nach den Maßnahmen, mit denen Museen und Materialien zu diesem Zweck ausgestattet werden können, erfordert einen komplexen, ganzheitlichen Ansatz. Obwohl keine der Maßnahmen das Problem in Gänze lösen oder eingrenzen kann, ist es wichtig zu betonen, dass Museen und Gedenkstätten mehrere Maßnahmen zur Verfügung haben: Sie können dazu beitragen, das Wissen über den Holocaust vor allem bei jungen Menschen zu erweitern, indem sie Inhalte bereitstellen, welche den sprachlichen und medialen Gewohnheiten Jugendlicher entsprechen; sie können die Gemeinschaft der Social Media Fans und FollowerInnen aktiv einbeziehen, indem sie in die Schaffung eines ein sicheren und kooperativen Umfelds einbeziehen; sie können sich auf nationale oder lokale Besonderheiten der Verzerrung des Holocausts konzentrieren; sie können den Unterschied zwischen absichtlicher Verzerrung und Verzerrung aufgrund mangelnden Wissens erkennen; sie können in die berufliche Entwicklung und Weiterbildung des Personals investieren und sie können die internationale Zusammenarbeit und den Austausch durch den Aufbau von Netzwerken zwischen Gedenkstätten und Museen sowie mit anderen Holocaust-Einrichtungen, stärken.
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Die Erinnerungskultur entsteht nicht aus dem Nichts. Sie wird von sozialen Akteuren verhandelt und konstruiert. Anhand des Romans, des Hörspiels und der Fernsehserie „Am grünen Strand der Spree“ (1955-1960), in denen eine Massenerschießung von Jüdinnen und Juden in der besetzten Sowjetunion während des Zweiten Weltkrieges geschildert wird, untersucht die Autorin die westdeutsche Zirkulation der Erinnerung an den sog. Holocaust by bullets. In drei mikrohistorischen Studien analysiert sie die Akteure, die Wirkung sowie die Materialität dieser Schilderungen. Dabei geht sie tief ins Detail, um die Mechanismen nachzuzeichnen, die das kulturelle Gedächtnis an die Massenerschießungen in Bewegung bzw. zum Stillstand bringen. Wie war es möglich, dass eine umfangreiche Darstellung eines NS-Verbrechens in der frühen Bundesrepublik erschien und fürs Radio und Fernsehen adaptiert wurde? Wieso wurden alle Fassungen von „Am grünen Strand der Spree“ über Jahrzehnte nur Spezialistinnen und Spezialisten bekannt? Aus welchen Gründen gewinnen der Roman, das Hörspiel und die Fernsehserie allmählich wieder an Popularität?
Chapter
This chapter explains how the unwanted knowledge of Polish wartime violence against their Jewish neighbours in Jedwabne emerged through the documentaries of Agnieszka Arnold and the scholarship of Jan Gross. It outlines the post-millennial Polish reframing of Holocaust history (including the denigration of the ‘innocent witness’ figure) and subsequent artistic engagements with this history. Rather than staging Holocaust violence, Polish aftermath cinema dramatises processes of ‘coming-to-know’ it. The language of stains and blind spots mobilised in filmic investigations and public discussion resonates with the structure of anamorphosis, as exemplified in Lacanian readings of Holbein’s painting The Ambassadors. A strategy of close reading, the chapter argues, can best attend to the paradoxes and multiplicities of post-Jedwabne films in their explorations of historical knowledge, materiality and ethics.
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Nur wenige Studien haben bis dato untersucht, wie Holocaust-Organisationen Soziale Medien in ihrer Öffentlichkeits- und Bildungsarbeit einsetzen. Diese Studie präsentiert die Resultate einer Literaturrecherche zur Nutzung von sozialen Medien für die Holocaust-Gedenkarbeit und -Erziehung sowie die Ergebnisse einer quantitativen Vorstudie zur Twitter-Nutzung von sechs Holocaust-Museen und -Organisationen in Deutschland und Italien. To date, few studies have investigated social media use in Holocaust organizations to engage general public and to help expand their knowledge of the Holocaust. We present an overview of the literature about the usage of social media for Holocaust memorialisation and education and a preliminary study on the usage of Twitter in a sample of six Holocaust museums or organisations in Germany and Italy. Along with the results of a first quantitative analysis, we also provide indications for future research.
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One of the dominant traits of the old Soviet regime was its unwillingness to confront the serious moral shortcomings of the Soviet past. Until the perestroika years of the late 1980s, when President Mikhail Gorbachev challenged Soviet citizens to "fill in the blank pages" of Soviet history, it was a regime with a singularly bad conscience.1 The bad conscience extended beyond the mass murder committed by the Bolsheviks and later by Stalin to the genocide committed by the Nazis on Soviet soil, beyond the massacres of the Civil War period (1918-1921), collectivization (1929-1932), and the Great Terror (1936-1938) to the blank pages concerning the Nazi Holocaust on Soviet soil. As is well known, until perestroika, the Soviet political and ideological leadership did as little as possible to acknowledge the historical facts of the crimes against the Jews committed on Soviet territory. The enforced silence immediately leads one to suspect some sort of complicity after the fact, and this impression is reinforced by the defensive tone of the scant official or officially sanctioned commentary that appeared in the press. In the Soviet press, indeed, the Holocaust was treated as someone else's problem—particularly the problem of the "capitalist" countries. The specifically anti-Jewish focus of the Holocaust and the virulent racism impelling Nazi actions were systematically downplayed. The memory of those atrocities was largely suppressed, much as were the facts about the various waves of terror in the Lenin and Stalin years and the facts about the scale and nature of the Gulag. It is entirely likely that Soviet citizens' experience of the Holocaust did not receive due coverage partly because such coverage could immediately bring to mind the parallels between the two totalitarian regimes and their repressive measures. While Soviet rulers were hushing up the history of murder in the Soviet period—no matter who the perpetrators had been—behind the scenes, among writers, there persisted a whispered conversation that spilled into the public discourse by fits and starts. The 45 years between 1943 and 1988, when Gorbachev's policy of glasnost' functionally declawed the censorship, saw a number of efforts to disclose the facts of the appalling slaughter of Jewish citizens by the Nazi Einsatztruppen and the local Polizei across the Ukraine. For most of the post-war period those efforts were contained by the censorship and the secret police and were known only within tight circles of writers and the upper levels of the party leadership. The present essay concentrates on those parts of the discussion that did reach the reading public in the form of literary works and published responses to them. It is through such works that public memory was formed. This public segment of the discussion started in the immediate post-war years, predominantly with Ilya Erenburg's novel The Storm(Buria, 1947); it revived in the so-called Thaw years of the 1960s, spearheaded by two literary works, Yevgeny Yevtushenko's pathbreaking poem "Babii Yar" (1961) and Anatoly Kuznetsov's documentary novel bearing the same title (1966, published in book form in 1967). The last major pre-glasnost' work of this small corpus was Anatoly Rybakov's important novel Heavy Sand(Tiazhelyi pesok, 1978). Throughout this debate, the central symbol of the Nazi "final solution" on Soviet soil—and of Russian and Ukrainian anti-Jewish racism—was Babii Yar, the ravine near Kiev, where more than 30,000 Jewish residents of the Ukrainian capital were massacred over two days, September 29-30, 1941. A complicating factor of the Holocaust in Slavic countries is that, although it was directed mainly against Jews, according to the Nazi plan, Slavs—whether Ukrainians, Russians, Poles, or people of other nations—were to serve as slave labor under the harshest conditions that would ultimately kill most of them (Der Prozess III: 455). The goal was eventually to reduce and then completely wipe out the Slavic populations in the "East Zone" (Der Prozess V: 376, 651). When Soviet ideologues reluctantly mentioned the massacres, they ignored their specifically anti-Jewish character and emphasized the victimization of "peaceful citizens" by the Nazis. When challenged, they mentioned, not incorrectly, that apart from the Jews other ethnic groups had...
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In November 1941, near the city of Rovno, Ukraine, German death squads murdered over 23,000 Jews in what has been described as "the second Babi Yar." This meticulous and methodologically innovative study reconstructs the events at Rovno, and in the process exemplifies efforts to form a genuinely transnational history of the Holocaust.
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In 1944, members of the Sonderkommando-the "special squads," composed almost exclusively of Jewish prisoners, who ensured the smooth operation of the gas chambers and had firsthand knowledge of the extermination process-buried on the grounds of Auschwitz-Birkenau a series of remarkable eyewitness accounts of Nazi genocide. This careful and penetrating study examines anew these "Scrolls of Auschwitz," which were gradually recovered, in damaged and fragmentary form, in the years following the camp's liberation. It painstakingly reconstructs their historical context and textual content, revealing complex literary works that resist narrow moral judgment and engage difficult questions about the limits of testimony. © 2016 Nicholas Chare and Dominic Williams. All rights reserved.
Article
Since its completion in 1955, Alain Resnais's Night and Fog (Nuit et Brouillard) has been considered one of the most important films to confront the catastrophe and atrocities of the Nazi era. But was it a film about the Holocaust that failed to recognize the racist genocide? Or was the film not about the Holocaust as we know it today but a political and aesthetic response to what David Rousset, the French political prisoner from Buchenwald, identified on his return in 1945 as the 'concentrationary universe' which, now actualized, might release its totalitarian plague any time and anywhere? What kind of memory does the film create to warn us of the continued presence of this concentrationary universe? This international collection re-examines Resnais's benchmark film in terms of both its political and historical context of representation of the camps and of other instances of the concentrationary in contemporary cinema. Through a range of critical readings, Concentrationary Cinema explores the cinematic aesthetics of political resistance not to the Holocaust as such but to the political novelty of absolute power represented by the concentrationary system and its assault on the human condition. © 2011, 2014 Griselda Pollock and Max Silverman. All rights reserved.
Article
Anatoly Rybakov's Heavy Sand (ТЯЖеЛЫЙ Πecok; 1978), the first widely read work of Russian fiction since the 1930s to deal extensively with Jewish life during the Soviet period, is a bold-and problematic-attempt to overcome the negative stereotype of the Jew in Russian culture and to create a memorial to the Soviet Jews murdered by the Nazis. However, governmental and self-imposed censorship, socialist realism, and the narrator's conflicted Russian-Jewish identity vitiate this rehabilitative project. Rybakov's use of socialist realism to heroize the Jews and to present their destruction as part of a larger plot to exterminate the Slavs distorts and de-Judaizes the Soviet Jewish catastrophe of the Second World War. Heavy Sand is replete with tensions and contradictions. On the one hand, the author celebrates Jewish family life and writes of a memorial to murdered Jews that includes a potentially subversive Hebrew inscription; on the other, he denies the significance of Jewish identity and provides a Russian translation of the Hebrew inscription that accords with Soviet policy and ideology. In the end, Heavy Sand conceals more than it reveals about Jewish life and death in the Soviet Union; it represents an aesthetics of-and a testimony to-not remembering but forgetting.
Article
When reflecting on the subject of children and the Holocaust, Abraham Sutzkever’s “Poem about a Herring” (1946) nearly always springs first to my mind. In this profoundly moving and semantically intricate work, Sutzkever (1913–2010)—a Holocaust survivor, partisan hero of the Lithuanian Jewish resistance, and “one of the great Yiddish poets of his generation” (Berger)—describes a scene of horror typical of the Einsatzgruppen “Aktions” that occurred throughout Eastern Europe following the commencement of Operation Barbarossa, the Nazis’ great Eastern offensive, on 22 June 1941. The Einsatzgruppen, or “Special Operations Squads,” were paramilitary units composed of members of the Nazi SS and SD and of various German police forces, including the Gestapo, who followed in the military’s footsteps as the Wehrmacht sliced through Poland and the Baltic states on their way to eventual defeat at Stalingrad in February 1943. At sites such as Babi Yar, they massacred over a period of two days more than 33,000 Jewish civilians, most of whom were killed by bullets fired at close range. Members of the Einsatzgruppen were responsible for the wet work of cultural cleansing from 1940 until 1942, when the psychological rigours of mass murder, coupled with the material wastefulness of this highly inefficient mode of human extermination, rendered concentration camps—capable of killing and disposing of millions of people—a more attractive option to the Nazi governing elite. In his poem, Sutzkever imagines a mother and her child perched together on the lip of a burial trench, facing their Nazi executioners: Right at the open limepit a child broke into tears: Mameh, I’m hungry, something to eat! So his mother momentarily forgot where she was —or she was forgotten by Him, God Who snatches time right from under our feet— and she quickly opened her satchel and gave her child this herring to eat. As if it were some silver bounty the young teeth grabbed the herring with pleasure. But quietly as though a nightingale suddenly burst into song from far away across blue waters a fiery string of notes of a sudden gave his head such a jolt. And out of the broken circle the naked child slid punctured into a pit. Frozen and grotesque this picture holds like a frieze: a child with a bloody herring in his mouth on a certain summer’s morning. And I search for that herring’s salt and still can not find its taste on my lips. Here Sutzkever captures key elements of a child’s experience of genocide, an experience marked by general incomprehension of his or her circumstances, vulnerability and mortal dependence on the kindness of adults, nostalgia for earlier and more comfortable times, and the sudden exposure to unimaginably brutal violence. Also present in the poem, partly because of the incomprehensibility of this violence, is the confusion of the surviving witness, Sutzkever’s speaker, who is confronted with the responsibility for making sense of this tragedy. The child’s final moments confound the speaker; try as he might, he cannot crack them open to peer inside. They offer no insight into the deeper meaning of the child’s death, and synecdochically of the genocide, beyond their obvious evocation of disconnection, absence, and loss—all important components of mourning. The poem ends with its speaker attempting to locate the contours of the boy’s death experience but failing to do so. The boy’s final moments of suffering remain visible from a distance only, their substance veiled by the passage of time and by the inevitable psychological and moral gulf separating the victim from the survivor. Such agony resists not merely signification but conceptualization in the poem. It is what Theodor Adorno in his Negative Dialectics calls “the extremity that eludes the concept” (365),1 and, by virtue of this elusiveness, it provides only weak (at best diffuse) support for any narrower moral judgments, life lessons, or themes the poet might wish to advance. In this sense, Sutzkever may be seen to describe an event that actively contests its own interpretation. The moral work to be done in the wake of the Holocaust, he suggests, lies not in the thematization or judgment of the genocide...
The Holocaust by Bullets: A Priest’s Journey to Uncover the Truth Behind the Murder of 1.5 Million Jews
  • Patrick Desbois
Narrative Perspective and the Holocaust Perpetrator: Edgar Hilsenrath’s The Nazi and the Barber and Jonathan Littell’s The Kindly Ones
  • Erin Mcglothlin
Translated by Harold Shukman
  • Anatoly Rybakov
  • Sand
The Representation of Babi Yar in Soviet Russian and Yiddish
  • Shay Pilnik
  • Arie
A Bystander’s Account of a Mass Murder
  • Kazimierz Ponary Sakowicz
  • Diary
Within the Apparatus of Control: On the Enduring Fascination of Surveillance Aesthetics
  • Roland Schöny
Holocaust by Bullets: Expanding the Field of Holocaust Art
  • Roma Sendyka
Poem about a Herring
  • Abraham Sutzkever
Dina Pronicheva’s Story of Surviving the Babi Yar Massacre: German, Jewish, Soviet, Russian, and Ukrainian Records
  • Karel C Berkhoff
Representing Treblinka
  • Erin Mcglothlin
Masters of Death: The SS-Einsatzgruppen and the Invention of the Holocaust
  • Richard Rhodes
Review of Ponary Diary
  • Antanas Sileika
The Riddle of Babi Yar: The True Story Told by a Survivor of the Mass Murders in Kiev
  • Ziama Trubakov