Archive

Monthly Archives: November 2016

pg 18  The so-called hierophany in museum space is often signalled through thresholds, passageways, or distinct boundaries, including staircases. For example, entering the Children memorial at Yad Vashem, visitors must descent between walls of Jerusalem stone into a tunnel, which leads into an underground cavern, During this descent, they experience a series of changes in light, temperature, and physical orientation. The tunnel ritually symbolises passage from one realm into another as visitors enter the sacred space of memorisation .

 

Advertisements

pg 103 – The memorials installed from 1953 until the late 1970S are either figural or minimalist in style and focus on the fighters, heroes, and martyrs of the Holocaust. Those installed since the 1980s,in contrast, tend to be conceptual or installationoriented, often employing visual strategies of absence and disorientation-what one may call postmodern approaches-and are dedicated to the victims and survivors of the Holocaust

105 – Yadvashem’s figural Wall ofRemembrance, a modified copy of Nathan Rapoport’s Warsaw Ghetto Uprising Monument (1948), epitomizes Zionist ideology: it embodies a heightened contrast between the passive old Jews and the fighting new Jews, thereby heroizing the resistance fighters. Until the 1990S, the relief of the fighters functioned as a sign for YadVashem as a whole (and was on the cover of the 1967YadVashem information pamphlet, reprinted until the 1980s). It is located on the square of the same name where Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Day takes place, Signifying a work to be viewed by large groups of people. Groups or representatives of groups are expected to leave the memorial with a sense of pride in the ghetto fighters and a clear message of Israeli strength. An acknowledgement of the difficulties ofsurvivors or sympathy for victims is markedly absent

107-108- ‘ Only the fighters, Bar-On states, were lauded and made welcome: “In the political atmosphere of the War of Independence, there was a tendency to legitimise only those who fought in the ghetto uprisings or with the partisans.”The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising became a principal element in the developing myth of heroism in Israel’s 1948War of Independence-the order calling for national mobilization even cited the uprising as a heroic Jewish precedent.

pg111- Bernie Fink’s Memorial to the Jewish Soldiers and Partisans Who Fought against Nazi Germany (1985) is dedicated to the Jewish heroes of the Holocaust who fought against the Nazis as Allied soldiers, as partisans, in the resistance movements, and in the ghettos. Even during the changing atmosphere regarding opinions about the Holocaust in the mid- 1980s,YadVashem still filled its function as a memorial dedicated to “heroes and martyrs.” Six great, oblong, hexagonal granite blocks (representing the six million) rest in two stacks of three, forming an opening in the shape of a Jewish star.The monument stands in front of a tiered sunken plaza in the shape of the menorah, recalling ancient Jewish rebellion. Clearly symbolic elements heighten the connections to heroism, while the imposing sleek forms are linked, as is Schwartz’s memorial, to minimalism. Fink’s memorial was built just on the cusp of a historical moment when attitudes were beginning to change radically

pg 112- 115 .Upon entering the memorial, the visitor passes a large. mounted square of clear glass, inscribed to the memory of the children, and walks into a bunkerlike tunnel that leads to a hollowed-out underground cavern. On the right hangs a plaque of Uziel Spiegel, Abraham and Edita Spiegel’s son. Through a door and around the bend, the visitor is greeted by atonal music and a recorded recitation in English and Hebrew of children’s names, ages, and places of origin, coinciding with large-format photographic portraits of children. They appear to represent a range of nationalities and religious backgrounds. A small door allows people to enter Single file and leads to a darkened room. Reflected in mirrors, five memorial candles splinter into millions oflights. The Talmud states that souls of unburied dead never find rest in their endless wanderings about the universe, and the reflecting flames are for Safdie “the souls of the children.t'< A path leads visitors single-file through the space: As the room is disorienting and filled with both darkness and light, it might very well be the kind of visual code that Laub and Podell speak of when they write that art about trauma is marked by empty spaces, disorientation, and discomfort.e- The change in attitudes in Israel allowed viewers to accept the visual metaphors and aesthetic codes employed in the Children’s Memorial. Regardless of visitors’ reactions (some have called it “pure kitsch”), the memorial clearly does not depict Zionism in the guise of ghetto fighters. The move toward sympathizing with the-innocent victims who were not fighters coincided with an acceptance ofsurvivors and their stories that started in the early 196o~ with the Eichmann trial. These attitudes visually coalesced in Safdie’s memorial in 1987.’when trauma had become an accepted medical condition for which the survivors and their families were treated. The psychotherapist Dina Wardi describes the role children play in family memory and inherited trauma. The sign of the candle, for instance, takes on heightened significance when viewed in terms of Israeli psychotherapeutic practice that addresses trauma. While ‘candles in the Children’s Memorial signify deceased children, the metaphor of the candle more broadly signifies the memory of deceased family members in survivors’ families. About the work Safdie said: “The more I entered the material, the more I became convinced that what was needed was a ner neshama, a memotial candle, multiplied to infinity through its mirror imag’e.”45 A ner neshema, in the Jewish tradition, is a sign for the dead. Wardi describes the role of children of Holocaust survivors who are singled out to represent those who died in the Holocaust. Following ancient Jewish tradition, children often bear the names of dead relatives.When named after relatives who died in the Holocaust, she explains, these children, whom she calls “memorial candles,” often bear the burden of Holocaust mourning for the entire family. Wardi observes that survivors often Single out one child to bear the burden of memory and death. That child often functions as a metaphor on whom parents unload their needs and conflicts.s” Survivors considered the establishment of new families a response to the central element in the Nazi plan: to exterminate all Jews of Europe, and very important, mothers and children. “I was born in 1946, “relates one survivor, “I have three given names: Arye, Zvi, Moshe, and three family names. I am actually carrying the whole family around-on my shoulders.”47The other children in the family, at least consciously freed of these burdens, grow up to have semi-normal lives, while the memorial-candle child often has trouble with relationships, careers, and family.The memorial candle is the emotional healer, while the Siblings are the physical healers, establishing their own families and thus “rebuilding” entire families.t” Bar-On contributes to this research by demonstrating that not only the memorial-candle children, but also their Siblings bear the burden of memory and trauma.t? Classical memory theory orders images in empty spaces (such as empty buildings) , so as to ensure better memory. In the case of the memorial candle, the memory of a dead relative is “shelved,” so to say, on the body of a living child, and memory spaces become a kind of memory body, for which there seems to be no precedent.P It might be safe to say, followingWardi, that the memorialcandle child functions for the parents as a continual, if rarely expressed, shock of past trauma. A memorial for victims who are children is easier to make than a memorial for victims who are adults-and it is here that this memorial comes close to fulfilling what Bennett calls the “moralizing” function of works of art that clearly spell out “good” victims versus “evil” perpetrators, thereby leaving the position of the viewer allied with the victim and never contemplating his or her potentiality for sadistic behavior.” In this instance, children obviously are not able to lead a resistance fight; their passivity is accepted as morally right and just. One could argue that the memorial embodies Zionist ideology that heroizes the fighter and blames the victim-the only reason these victims are not blamed is because they are children.P If the tradition of private mourning existed in the naming process described above, a more public shift in attitudes slowly developed. Bar-On’s study of Israeli families coincided with a noticeable change in Israeli society in the ‘970S and ‘980s, marked by a less judgmental attitude toward Holocaust survivors and a need to speak: “Acknowledgment of complex emotional processes, of the need for self-actualization, and of differences between individuals and generations came about only in the seventies and eighties. A more mature society emerged, which learned to acknowledge the high cost of previous patterns.l’P

The elephant in the Building: The Case of Israel

pg 344 – The question of the relationship between Israeli and Jewish architecture was implict in a remark that Peter Eisenmann made in the winter of 2006 “People in Israel”, he said, “are Not Jew; they are Israelis. For me, a Jew lives in the Diaspora”[[Interview with Peter Eisenman, (by rosenfeld) in December 5, 2006]]

pg344 – Eisenmann points out the differences between Diaspora Jewish identity and the idenity of the Jewish ISraelis.

344 – Translated to the realm of architecutre, this view meant that Jewish architects in Palestine (and later Israel) operated with different priorities from those in the Diapora. Rather than exploring aspects of Jewishness in their work or trying to create a distinctly EJwish form of architecture, architects in Palestine and Israel focused on fashioning “Hebrew”,”Zionist”, eventually, an “Israeli” national style of building

pg 346 – After fending off Arab military attacks in 1947 – 48, the state of Israel had to integrate hundreds of thousands of refugees arriving from war-torn Europe. Functionalist solutions to pressing problems were in high demand, and priority was given to issues of city planning , refugee housing, and infrastructure. Little attention was given to issues of architectural representation. This understandable neglect contribute to the mediocre quality of the nations architecture .

pg 346-347 – The major structures built in this period exhibited little Jewish Character. This is equally true of Joseph Klarweins classically inspired design for the Knesset (1958-55)

pg 347 – [new direction] The rise of postmodernism, with its valorization of history, memory,and identity, sustained this trend as well. Many major projects prusued in this period drew on regional building tradtiions. Moshe safdies mamilla residential devlepement (1972-93) used stone facing, arches, and domes, while his new campus for Hebrew Union college (1976-89) featured stone-clad buildings that surround interior courtyard grace with trellised arcades.

pg 189 – At first, it was a minor institution that competed with other national memorial sites, like the Shoah Cellar in Mount Zion in Jerusalem15 and the Holocaust memorial sites at the kibbutzim of Yad Mordechai and Lohamei Hageta’ot (Ghetto Fighters). Gradually, it
became the central Israeli national Holocaust memorial site and also one of Israel’s most significant national symbolic sites. Its location is very meaningful in this regard. It is situated in west Jerusalem on Mount Herzl (named after Theodor Herzl, the founder of modern political Zionism)—the Israeli national ‘Mount of Remembrance’. This site encompasses, alongside Yad Vashem, also the national military cemetery, Herzl’s tomb and the official burial site for the nation’s great leaders (‘Helkat Gedolei Ha’Uma’) among them Yitzhak Rabin, Golda Meir, Ze’ev Jabotinsky and many others.

pg 189  – (YAD VASHEM) by the 1990s it was second in popularity among tourists to Israel only to the Wailing Wall

190 – It has become—together with the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC (USHMM), the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe in Berlin, and Auschwitz itself— an international Holocaust ‘shrine’ of pilgrimage. These four ‘shrines’ serve as anchoring sites for the new Holocaust ethical memory that has become a fundamental component in the current identity of the West.

192 – The display deliberately and most self-consciously depicts a very
concrete focal point. As stated on the Yad Vashem website and in other official
publications, and as patently evident in the display itself, the museum presents
the story of the Shoah from a uniquely Jewish perspective.

192-193- The first one is dedicated to the Jewish world in Europe before the Shoah, which
is portrayed by a very sophisticated and impressive video-art exhibition. This
seems to express the idea that the visitor should not encounter the Jews only as
victims of the Holocaust but as human beings who had lives and histories prior
to the war. They are not merely objects of German genocidal history but rather
a subject in their own right. Following this installation, visitors are introduced in a
very moving and overwhelming exhibition to the individuation principle of the
museum.

pg 193- Modernity racism, former genocides, colonialism and imperialism, the development of discourses and practices of exclusions in the sciences, totalitarianism, fascism, the First World War, the Weimar Republic, mass society, modern nationalism the modern nation-state and so on are all omitted. However much significance one attributes to antisemitism
in understanding the Holocaust, it is obvious that it alone cannot provide a sufficient
historical background. After all, if hatred of Jews/Jew hatred is such an old phenomenon as it is presented in the exhibition, why did the Holocaust occur in the middle of the twentieth century? Consequently, an explanatory gap is introduced into the narrative from the outset.

pg 194 – Here again, one can sense the aporia that pierces the narrative. Why does the persecution
worsen? How were the decisions regarding the Jews made? How does one
phase evolve into the next one? How were all obstacles overcome? None of these
questions are addressed in the museum. This escalation is not explained and is presented
as a natural continuum. The visitor gains the impression that this mass evil
operates according to some internal logic shorn of an external context. The very
minimal and elementary references to the war function here as mere general background
and in no way provide even a partial historical context.

pg 195 – the museum makes every effort to get the visitor to acknowledge that the road to the‘final solution’ was anything but complex. It is portrayed as determined and as
already decided upon at a very early stage, although it is never explicitly said.

pg 196 – ‘These [the stages leading to the final solution] did not follow explicit orders descending from the apex to the base of the pyramid. Rather, there was a complex interrelationship of “green lights” from action coming from above and initiatives taken from below, combining to produce a spiral of radicalization’. [Kershaw, Fateful choices, p. 454.]

pg 197 – This omission is not just a misrepresentation; it is an anti-representation. Because the museum represents the deeds without the doers, and thus, even if unintentionally, it elevates the event to the mythic sphere; it portrays the event divorced from its worldly ‘causes and effect’ dimensions and from the human sphere of reasoning and explanations. The events are a ‘given’, revealing some eternal truth about the world—
that is what defines a myth. The Holocaust as presented in the museum lacks its
earthly dimensions. A ‘historial’ approach is very much missing. This omission of any serious reference to the perpetrators is a striking curatorial policy. Because the premise, seemingly shared by the museum’s ‘implied narrator and imagined uninformed addressee, is that the Holocaust is an unprecedented if not a unique event, it is one that does not lend itself intuitively to reason. It is a huge and catastrophic historical question; and this is why we build, visit and honour such a museum to commemorate this event. Such a premise calls for an explanation, a desire to understand, to start filling the gap of ‘disbelief’44; how did that happen? And precisely this question is avoided altogether in the museum. Hence, one can conclude that the museum not only fails to fill in these gaps, but that its dense, linear, perhaps even teleological, determinist and certainly very authoritative narrative actually discourages such gaps from erupting.

pg 198 – When one enters the museum, one is literally disconnected from the earthly, everyday
world. The logic that functions here is not the one that functions there. One has
to cross a bridge and go underneath the ground to a place where the gaps in the
narrative are taken for granted and lose their disturbing nature. Only there is the
visitor invited to confront the Holocaust.

pg 200- This ‘something
else’ is disconnected from earthly meaning and is elevated by the means I just
mentioned to the sphere of a sacred and authoritative myth. But what is its nature?

pg 200 -One can also mention the fact that except for three, all video testimonies are in
Hebrew.55 Obviously, this is due to the fact that Yad Vashem made use of its own
rich video testimony archival resources, which are mostly in Hebrew. But nonetheless
this gives the impression that Hebrew is the only Jewish language of the
victims and survivors whereas in fact only a tiny fraction of the Jews in Europe
spoke Hebrew during the Holocaust. Many of them, particularly from Eastern
Europe, spoke Yiddish and other languages as well. The focus on Hebrew is therefore
a Zionization of the ‘Jewish perspective’ that excludes other spoken
languages and perspectives (except for Yiddish which appears here and there on
the display but not in the videos).

pg 201 – The answer is that except for a very mild hint at the radical, problematic case of Mordechai Chaim Rumkowski, the head of the Lodz ghetto Judenrat, nothing in the
display gestures to these issues that so strongly emphasized and intensively discussed
in writings from the time of the Holocaust. These aspects are excluded
in order to construct a glorifying and heroic image of Jewish life in the Holocaust.

(The woman on the train Night – ellie wiesel , the nicking of the bread at the concentration camps)

pg 202 – Thomas Elsaesser has claimed, the role of the victim became a desirable position of universal acceptance and recognition in contemporary societies. In a world devoid of legitimate heroic action and convincing emancipatory narratives, the victim seems to
become the only viable moral social position—he has become the new hero of this era.66 It is an era that gave rise to what Eva Illouz calls the homo sentimentalis in a culture that has adopted a fundamentally therapeutic narrative of the self. She regards this as one of the most prevailing features of current Western culture.67 ( why we identify with the victims_ [[Eva Illouz, Cold intimacies: the making of emotional capitalism (Cambridge: Polity Press, 2007).]]

pg 203 – Yad Vashem is not a place serving only mourning. It is a place of humanity. Here, we must recall the lessons of history for a purpose. And the purpose is that the lessons learned must be passed on from one generation to the next, and we must understand, all of us, that we should never allow genocide in any form to happen again. We must learn our lesson from the Holocaust: Despising or dehumanizing any religion or people should not be permitted. Genocide, ethnic cleansing, racism, antismitism, Islamophobia, Christiana-phobia [sic], xenophobia are all historical yet contemporary evils that we all share a solemn responsibility to combat.[[http://www1.yadvashem.org/yv/en/about/events/pdf/museum_opening/turkey.pdf]]

pg 205 – ‘Though we feel horror at the images, we can comfort ourselves
with the secret satisfaction deriving from our own sense of moral goodness in
recognizing that horror. The cultural circulation of Holocaust horrors can all too
easily become moral kitsch’.85 [ Poole, “Misremembering the Holocaust’, p. 38]

pg 206 – LaCapra warns us: ‘It
may remain within a quasi-sacrificial scapegoat mechanism whereby the
victim of the past becomes the redeeming figure of the present with whom
one identifies.’90
What is more, this ‘quasi-sacrificial scapegoat mechanism’ is already implicitly
and on a structural level (though not in its content) at work in the museum itself
through exclusionary relations to any ‘otherness’ of what the museum presumes as
the ‘Jewish narrative’. By that, it unintentionally repeats within itself this sacrificial
exclusionary logic. Every otherness of historicity that interferes with the
closed and self-contained (one may even say narcissistic or even chauvinistic) narrative
is radically reduced or removed altogether.91 The result is a mythic narrative
of antisemitism and victimhood that cannot be penetrated by history but only
invites or even demands identification. Its political lesson is displayed in the
last hall of the exhibition dedicated to the aftermath of the Holocaust. Almost
nothing is said about the survivors who emigrated to countries such as the
United States, Canada, Australia or South America. Nothing is said about
the majority of them, those who decided or were forced to stay in Europe in the
first years after the war (except that they were still persecuted, as in the 1946
Kielce pogrom) but much is made of their emigration to Palestine and the establishment
of the State of Israel.

“Never shall i Forget that night, the first night in camp, that turned my life into one long night seven times sealed. Never shall i forget that smoke. Never shall i forget the small faces of the children whose bodies i saw transformed into smoke under a silent sky. Never shall i forget those flames that consumed my faith forever. Never shall i forget the nocturnal silence that deprived me for all eternity of the desire to live. Never shall i forget those moments that murdered my God and my soul and turned my dream to ashes. Never shall i forget those things, even were i condemned to  live as long a God Himself. Never “