Book of the Month: Holocaust Archaeologies: Approaches and Future Directions

Holocaust Archaeologies: Approaches and Future Directions

Caroline Sturdy Colls

83ad12b8-2014-4c34-ae74-f0d25a3b6358Holocaust Archaeologies: Approaches and Future Directions aims to move archaeological research concerning the Holocaust forward through a discussion of the variety of the political, social, ethical and religious issues that surround investigations of this period and by considering how to address them. It considers the various reasons why archaeological investigations may take place and what issues will be brought to bear when fieldwork is suggested. It presents an interdisciplinary methodology in order to demonstrate how archaeology can (uniquely) contribute to the history of this period. Case examples are used throughout the book in order to contextualize prevalent themes and a variety of geographically and typologically diverse sites throughout Europe are discussed. This book challenges many of the widely held perceptions concerning the Holocaust, including the idea that it was solely an Eastern European phenomena centered on Auschwitz and the belief that other sites connected to it were largely destroyed or are well-known. The typologically, temporally and spatial diverse body of physical evidence pertaining to this period is presented and future possibilities for investigation of it are discussed. Finally, the volume concludes by discussing issues relating to the “re-presentation” of the Holocaust and the impact of this on commemoration, heritage management and education. This discussion is a timely one as we enter an age without survivors and questions are raised about how to educate future generations about these events in their absence.

Book of the Month: The Dark Heart of Hitler’s Europe: Nazi Rule in Poland Under the General Government

The Dark Heart of Hitler’s Europe: Nazi Rule in Poland Under the General Government

by Martin Winstone

94e47c28-29dd-48e7-a860-a1bce7882457Even amidst the horrors of Nazi rule in Europe, the tragic history of the General Government – the Nazi colony created out of the historic core of Poland, including Warsaw and Krakow, following the German and Soviet invasion of 1939 – stands out. Separate from but ruled by Germany through a brutal and corrupt regime headed by the vain and callous Hans Frank, this was indeed the dark heart of Hitler’s empire. As the principal ‘racial laboratory’ of the Third Reich, the General Government was the site of Aktion Reinhard, the largest killing operation of the Holocaust, and of a campaign of terror and ethnic cleansing against Poles which was intended to be a template for the rest of eastern Europe.

Book of the Month: The Bloomsbury Companion to Holocaust Literature

The Bloomsbury Companion to Holocaust Literature

Edited by Jenni Adams

216The Bloomsbury Companion to Holocaust Literature is a comprehensive reference resource including a wealth of critical material on a diverse range of topics within the literary study of Holocaust writing. At its centre is a series of specially commissioned essays by leading scholars within the field: these address genre-specific issues such as the question of biographical and historical truth in Holocaust testimony, as well as broader topics including the politics of Holocaust representation and the validity of comparative approaches to the Holocaust in literature and criticism.

Book of the Month: European Muslim Antisemitism: Why Young Urban Males Say They Don’t Like Jews

European Muslim Antisemitism: Why Young Urban Males Say They Don’t Like Jews

By Günther Jikeli

202Antisemitism from Muslims has become a serious issue in Western Europe, although not often acknowledged as such. Looking for insights into the views and rationales of young Muslims toward Jews, Günther Jikeli and his colleagues interviewed 117 ordinary Muslim men in London (chiefly of South Asian background), Paris (chiefly North African), and Berlin (chiefly Turkish).

The researchers sought information about stereotypes of Jews, arguments used to support hostility toward Jews, the role played by the Middle East conflict and Islamist ideology in perceptions of Jews, the possible sources of anti-Semitic views, and, by contrast, what would motivate Muslims to actively oppose antisemitism. They also learned how the men perceive discrimination and exclusion as well as their own national identification.

This study is rich in qualitative data that will mark a significant step along the path toward a better understanding of contemporary antisemitism in Europe

Book of the Month: Holocaust Memory Reframed: Museums and the Challenges of Representation

Holocaust Memory Reframed: Museums and the Challenges of Representation

by Jennifer Hansen-Glucklich

Museum administrators and curators have the challenging role of finding a creative way to present Holocaust exhibits to avoid clichéd or dehumanizing portrayals of victims and their suffering.

173In Holocaust Memory Reframed, Jennifer Hansen-Glucklich examines representations in three museums: Israel’s Yad Vashem in Jerusalem, Germany’s Jewish Museum in Berlin, and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. She describes a variety of visually striking media, including architecture, photography exhibits, artifact displays, and video installations in order to explain the aesthetic techniques that the museums employ. As she interprets the exhibits, Hansen-Glucklich clarifies how museums communicate Holocaust narratives within the historical and cultural contexts specific to Germany, Israel, and the United States.

Book of the Month: War Crimes, Genocide, and Justice

War Crimes, Genocide, and Justice

by David M. Crowe

164In this sweeping, definitive work, leading human rights scholar David M. Crowe offers an unflinching look at the long and troubled history of genocide and war crimes. From atrocities in the ancient world to more recent horrors in Nazi Germany, Cambodia, and Rwanda, Crowe reveals not only the disturbing consistency they have shown over time, but also the often heroic efforts that nations and individuals have made to break seemingly intractable patterns of violence and retribution – in particular, the struggle to create a universally accepted body of international humanitarian law. He traces the emergence of the idea of ‘just war,’ early laws of war, the first Geneva Conventions, the Hague peace conferences, and the efforts following World Wars I and II to bring to justice those who violated international law.

 

He also provides incisive accounts of some of the darkest episodes in recent world history, covering violations of human rights law in Afghanistan, Bosnia, Cambodia, Guatemala, the Iran-Iraq war, Korea, Tibet, and many other contexts. With valuable insights into some of the most vexing issues of today – including controversial US efforts to bring alleged terrorists to justice at Guantánamo Bay, and the challenges facing the International Criminal Court – this is an essential work for understanding humankind’s long and often troubled history.

Aftermath: The Fragility of Holocaust Memory in Poland as depicted in film

161Standing on Polish soil is to stand upon the fertile ground of memory. Poles see themselves as a people who have struggled to maintain their national identity amidst occupation and oppression. The Polish past is negotiated on a daily basis between the generations of Poles who lived (or grew up) during World War II, those who lived during the Soviet regime, and those who have come of age after the fall of Communism. All three of these groups have grown up with the narrative of Poles as rescuers, resisters and martyrs. This idea was shaped during the Soviet years and reinforced through Polish popular culture.

Continue reading “Aftermath: The Fragility of Holocaust Memory in Poland as depicted in film”

The Guatemalan Lesson

You are not obliged to complete the work, but you are not free to desist from it either.

Rabbi Tarfon (from the Talmud)

On February 6, as part of the IAS Collaborative Reframing Mass Violence lecture series, CHGS partnered with the Human Rights Program and the Film Society of Minneapolis/St. Paul for a screening of the documentary film Granito: How to Nail a Dictator  A discussion with its director, Pamela Yates, and producer, Paco de Onís followed.  Granito tells a breathtaking story of courage and perseverance in the pursuit of justice that uniquely embodies the quote above from the Talmud.

The film spans thirty years as five protagonists in Guatemala, Spain, and the United States attempt to bring truth, memory, and justice to the violence-plagued Central American country. A US filmmaker, a forensic anthropologist, a Spanish lawyer, a Maya survivor, and a Guatemalan witness activist each become a “granito,” a tiny grain of sand, adding up to an extraordinary accomplishment three decades after the atrocities: the indictment and trial of ex-dictator General Ríos Montt, former de facto president and responsible for a genocidal campaign that killed thousands of indigenous Guatemalans during the bloodiest phase of a war against the leftist guerrillas in 1982-1983. On May 10, 2013, Ríos Montt was convicted of genocide and crimes against humanity. It was the first time a former head of state had been found guilty of genocide by a court in his own country.

The last chapter of this Guatemalan story is yet to be written. Only ten days after the ruling, the Constitutional Court of Guatemala overturned the conviction under pressure from an organization representing the country’s deeply reactionary oligarchy.

Still, the judgment marked a turning point in Guatemalan history, and it has also become part of the history of human rights. It sends a clear message to other parts of the world where present or former perpetrators still live in freedom and privilege despite proven involvement in atrocious crimes. It also teaches an important lesson: As a collective effort, step by step or “grain by grain,” even in Guatemala-one of the most profoundly unjust societies in the Americas-justice can be achieved.

Alejandro Baer is the Stephen C. Feinstein Chair and Director of the Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies.

 

Book of the Month: Genocide: A Reader

Genocide: A Reader

By Jens Meierhenrich

148Genocide is a phenomenon that continues to confound scholars, practitioners, and general readers. Notwithstanding the carnage of the twentieth century, our understanding of genocide remains partial. Disciplinary boundaries have inhibited integrative studies and popular, moralizing accounts have hindered comprehension by advancing simple truths in an area where none are to be had.

Genocide: A Reader lays the foundations for an improved understanding of genocide. With the help of 150 essential contributions, Jens Meierhenrich provides a unique introduction to the myriad dimensions of genocide and to the breadth and range of critical thinking that exists concerning it. This innovative anthology offers genre-defining as well as genre-bending selections from diverse disciplines in law, the social sciences, and the humanities as well as from other fields. A wide-ranging introductory chapter on the study and history of genocide accompanies the carefully curated and annotated collection.

Book of the Month: Commemorating the Holocaust: The Dilemmas of Remembrance in France and Italy

Commemorating the Holocaust: The Dilemmas of Remembrance in France and Italy

by Rebecca Clifford

144Commemorating 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.