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Dear Bradley,
Thank you so much for your kind letter. I apologize for my slow response, but it has been a very intense teaching semester. Your topic sounds intriguing — especially the question of personal identity and individual perspective and how it impacts engagement with memorial forms and memory seems to me very promising — and as far as I know, there isn’t a lot of scholarship directly on this idea. Are you familiar with the work of Oren Baruch Stier? His new book, Holocaust Icons, Rutgers UP, might be something useful for your topic. Also, I am in the midst of writing a book review on a collection of essay and just came across a piece by Tracy Rosenberg that might be worth looking at: the book is Revisiting Holocaust Representation in the Post-Witness Era and her essay is “Contemporary Holocaust Memorials in Berlin: On the Borders of the Sacred and Profane.” Personally, I am also fascinated by this idea of the sacred in representation, and the work of Mark Taylor — Disfiguring: Art, Architecture, Religion — was incredibly rich and inspiring — if you haven’t read this, I really recommend it.
I wish you luck with this project, it sounds great, and please let me know if there is any way I can help.
Best,
Jennifer

Dear Bradley,

Thank you for your message.  I’m glad to hear that you enjoyed my article.  I’m not sure how much help I can be, but I can suggest some reading that might be helpful.
On the “fractured German memory” after World War II, you might want to read W. G. Sebald’s “Air War and Literature” in On the Natural History of Destruction.  Sebald discusses Alexander and Margerete Mitscherlich’s study, The Inability to Mourn, which could be helpful (although it might be a little out of date).
With regards to the temporality of trauma and perpetrators, you might want to do research into the term “perpetrator trauma.”  This is a controversial idea, and I agree with Dominick LaCapra (Writing History, Writing Trauma) that it is problematic because it creates a false equivalence between victims and perpetrators.
On trauma in general, I admire Cathy Caruth’s approach in Unclaimed Experience, but this too has been a controversial topic (Thomas Trezise and Dori Laub, who took conflicting positions about trauma, could also be useful, as well as LaCapra).  It might also be worth taking a look at Aleida Assmann’s book, Cultural Memory and Western Civilization.
I hope this helps!
Best wishes,
Alan

pg 8 – There is the importance of trauma, notably including the deferred recognition of the significance of traumatic series of events in recent history, events one might well prefer to forget. The traumatic events has its greatest and most clearly unjustifiable effect on the victim ,but in different ways it also affects everyone who comes in contact with it : perpetrator, collaborators, bystander, resisters, those born later. (intro, why germany has in more difficult than Israel for example.)

pg 9 (placing identity in question) – It may raise problems of identity for others insofar as it unsettles narcissistic investments and desired self-images, including 0 especially with respect to the shoah

pg 9 – The traumatic event is repressed or denied and registers only belatedly after the passage of period of latency. This effect of belatedness has of course been a manifest aspect of the Holocaust as it impinged not only germany but also on other nations and groups including Israel

pg 10 – Figures such as Robert faurisson are able to appeal to extremes in denying the excesses of the past, for they may turn either to hyperbolic neopositivism that demands absolute verification to establish the mere existence of gas chambers or to equally exaggerated relativism and constructivism that affirm the ultimately fictive, subjective nature of all narrative and interpretive schemas

General Jewish German Connection

 

General

31 people from Europe and 29 from USA – 64 overall

Overall all 31% have a personal connection to the Holocaust with 69% not

14 Jewish with majority having a connection to the Holocaust

whilst 5 Germans in the survey all with no personal connection to the holocaust

those who had personal connections with the holocaust 52% were Relatives and 24 % were Family Friends. 24% other

Majority of people believe Historical knowledge of the Holocaust was more important than Remembering Jewish Heritage. (including Jewish people, Jewish heritage ranked 2nd) Same with German Residence

CAMP

50/50 split on visiting concentration camps, reflective at the overall but also with people with personal connections with the holocaust. 1/3 of jewish people have been. All of German Participants have visited a camp

most people agreed ( and Jewish) that the Camp does not overexpose imagery that trivialise the holocaust and agreed that the camp evokes an emotional response to the visitor. (Germans had divided view on whether imagery trivialised the holocaust) Personal connection had the highest ranking emotional response.

Would you suggest any improvements to the Concentration Camp Tour ?

Majority of the people felt the tours at Auschwitz although informative was rushed and felt much like a tourist attraction.

It very much depends on the particular camp and its location. Many of the photographs on display in Dachau, for example, are very graphic compared to other former camps. In terms of Plaszow, I also think there should be better signage around the site. There are sites in the four corners of the former camp stating the history of the site, but you still see dog walkers, joggers, children running around etc. which I find uncomfortable.

 

 

 

Museums

Overall 61% have visited museums , 39% not.

What Main factors should be represented in a memorial/museum

Believe Factual information is the most important and a place for tourist being the least important. Interestingly A place where visitors can experience the history of the Holocaust on their own terms is very low on importance. (in general and personal connection)

For the Jewish community Memorials to the victims is a big factor, A place where visitors can experience the history of the holocaust on their own terms is at the lowest.

German  people most think that it should be a place where visitors can experience the history Holocaust on their own terms and Memorials to the victims was ranked the most important with tourist attract being the least

 

What should Holocaust memorials be like

Majority of the answers to how architecture should be portrayed is simple , respectful and influence by the area represented (personal connection , Germany ).

Jewish community is very much Jewish incline wanting memorials to be like yad vashem Jewish and to honor the memory of those who died.

“Thought provoking & contemporary but not so abstract as to effect comprehension. A lot of memorials suffer because no one knows what they are memorialising. (Germany’s memorial/skate park) is a example of this, also the memorial in Hyde park which is incredibly hard to locate. The museum architecture at Yad Vashem I find particularly powerful as the entrance section on pre war Jewish life is literally hanging on a precipice , and the other end post liberation leaves you looking out over Israel. ”

Jewish Museum

13 visited Jewish Museum Berlin

Of the German consensus 33% have visited the Jewish Museum Berlin similar percentage of people with personal connections and Jewish Community

Agreed it evokes an emotional response (particularly in Jew) to the visitor and the use of abstraction as a way of defining the holocaust and disagree that the museum overexposes imagery.

suggest improvements

too abstract

There isn’t really enough material on what happened after the camps were liberated (as is the problem with many Holocaust museums). I remember seeing only one photograph of a DP camp, for example.

 

 

In your own words how would you describe Germany’s efforts to remember the Holocaust

 

Conscienous … When I visited Berlin I could not turn a street corner without stu,bling across a memorail dedicated to specific victims of the Nazi regime or an exhibition such as diversity destroyed, topography of terror etc

Admirable. The younger generation had nothing to do with the Holocaust but they are still determined to remember it and reflect on it, and pass the lessons onto future generations.

  I don’t know a lot on the subject, but I would say they are doing fairly well in being open about the Holocaust. I did watch a documentary on Auschwitz however where they asked school children aged between 13-18 what they thought about Hitler and the gas chambers, and many of them didn’t know the full extent to what had happened there.

Not very good. Have never seen from the country an apology and now for them to have on the book shelves of their bookshops Mein Kampf is surely bringing back the hatred that some not all have still of the Jewish Race

Germany has done a remarkable job. They are in such a delicate space of having to do this tough thing while still maintaining their own dignity. I commend Germany for what they’ve done. They’ve done it better than others I think.

I personally hate the Germans and wish to say no more.

They only reluctantly remember the Holocaust

German participants believe that Germany are doing a very good jobs at remembering the holocaust whilst the jewish community believe that there is more to be done. In general it was a mix bag. From being recognised what has happened to informing future generations to not coming forwarded and admitted their wrongs

 

pg 3 – 600,000 German civilians fell victim to the air raids

pg 7 – From the outset, the now legendary and in some respects genuinely admirable reconstruction of the country after the devastation wrought by Germany’s wartime enemies, a reconstruction tantamount to a second liquidation in successive phase of the nations own past history, prohibited any look backward.

 

 

James Young: Germany’s Holocaust Memorial

Every memorial not just holocaust memorial … are created at an intersection of aesthetic templar , political needs , economic realities of the moment, the site itself will help shape  ,  and meaning of the giving time will unnecessarily evolve over time

memorial made in 1948 is understood differently now and will be understood differently in 50 years… We need space in these memorials for the expansion of our memories and adaption

 

Countires dont rebuild themselves over their crimes , countries build themselves around the remember martyrdoms

German been asked to not only create a national memorial based on the holocaust made a national identity based on the holocaust