by Rebecca Clifford
Commemorating the Holocaust: The Dilemmas of Remembrance in France and Italy reveals how and why the Holocaust came to play a prominent role in French and Italian political culture in the period after the end of the Cold War. By charting the development of official, national Holocaust commemorations in France and Italy, Rebecca Clifford explains why the wartime persecution of Jews, a topic ignored or marginalized in political discourse through much of the Cold War period, came to be a subject of intense and often controversial debate in the 1990s and 2000s.
How and why were official Holocaust commemorations created? Why did the drive for states to “remember” their roles in the persecution of Jewish populations accelerate only after the collapse of the Cold War? Who pressed for these commemorations, and what motivated their activism? To what extent was the discourse surrounding national Holocaust commemorations really about the genocide at all?
Commemorating the Holocaust explores these key questions, challenging commonly-held assumptions about the origins of and players involved in the creation of Holocaust memorial days. Clifford draws conclusions that shed light both on the state of Holocaust memory in France and Italy, and more broadly on the collective memory of World War II in contemporary Europe.