The End of the Holocaust
234 pages

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Cultural representations and misrepresentations of the Holocaust

Read an excerpt from the book. Listen to an IU Press podcast with the author.

In this provocative work, Alvin H. Rosenfeld contends that the proliferation of books, films, television programs, museums, and public commemorations related to the Holocaust has, perversely, brought about a diminution of its meaning and a denigration of its memory. Investigating a wide range of events and cultural phenomena, such as Ronald Reagan's 1985 visit to the German cemetery at Bitburg, the distortions of Anne Frank's story, and the ways in which the Holocaust has been depicted by such artists and filmmakers as Judy Chicago and Steven Spielberg, Rosenfeld charts the cultural forces that have minimized the Holocaust in popular perceptions. He contrasts these with sobering representations by Holocaust witnesses such as Jean Améry, Primo Levi, Elie Wiesel, and Imre Kertész. The book concludes with a powerful warning about the possible consequences of "the end of the Holocaust" in public consciousness.

1. Popular Culture and the Politics of Memory
2. The Rhetoric of Victimization
3. The Americanization of the Holocaust
4. Anne Frank: The Posthumous Years
5. The Anne Frank We Remember/The Anne Frank We Forget
6. Jean Améry: The Anguish of the Witness
7. Primo Levi: The Survivor as Victim
8. Surviving Survival: Elie Wiesel and Imre Kertész
9. The End of the Holocaust
Epilogue: A "Second Holocaust"?



Publié par
Date de parution 20 avril 2011
Nombre de lectures 0
EAN13 9780253000927
Langue English

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This book is a publication of
INDIANA UNIVERSITY PRESS 601 North Morton Street Bloomington, Indiana 47404-3797 USA
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© 2011 by Alvin H. Rosenfeld
All rights reserved
No part of this book may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying an d recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without p ermission in writing from the publisher. The Association of American Universi ty Presses’ Resolution on Permissions constitutes the only exception to this prohibition.
The paper used in this publication meets the minim um requirements of the American National Standard for Information Sciences —Permanence of Paper for Printed Library Materials, ANSI Z39.48-1992.
Manufactured in the United States of America
Rosenfeld, Alvin H. (Alvin Hirsch), [date] The end of the Holocaust / Alvin H. Rosenfeld.  p. cm. Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN 978-0-253-35643-7 (cloth : alk. paper) 1. Holocaust, Jewish (1939–1945)—Historiography. 2. Holocaust, Jewish (1939–1945), in literature. 3. Holocaust, Jewish (1 939–1945)— Influence. 4. Frank, Anne, 1929–1945—Influence. 5. Collective memory—United States. 6. Popular culture—United States. I. Title. D804.348.R65 2011 940.53'1814—dc22 2010047849
1 2 3 4 5 16 15 14 13 12 11
This book isfor my wife,
Arna Rosenfeld,
ànd oUr çhildren ànd gràndçhildren
GavrielàndArika, JuliaàndBenjamin
DaliaàndĀsher, Natan,Gidon, àndĀdin
ONE Popular Culture and the Politics of Memory
TWO The Rhetoric of Victimization
THREE The Americanization of the Holocaust
FOUR Anne Frank: The Posthumous Years
FIVE The Anne Frank We Remember/The Anne Frank We Forget
SIX Jean Améry: The Anguish of the Witness
SEVEN Primo Levi: The Survivor as Victim
EIGHT Surviving Survival: Elie Wiesel and Imre Kertész
NINE The End of the Holocaust
EPILOGUE A “Second Holocaust”? Notes Index
Many friends, colleagues, former students, and family members have read portions of this manuscript and given me the benefits of their insights. While they bear no responsibility for the flaws that may remain in the final version of this book, their comments and criticisms proved helpful time and again. I am especially grateful to Edward Alexander, Ilan Avisar, Lisa Braverman, Dov-Ber Kerler, Myron Kolatch, Barbara Krawcowicz, Matthias Lehmann, Vivian Liska, Daniel and Gale Nichols, Cynthia Ozick, Aron Rodrigue, Dalia Rosenfeld, Erna Rosenfeld, Gavriel Rosenfeld, Sidney Rosenfeld, Tammi Rossman-Benjamin, John Schilb, David Semmel, David Singer, Eric Sundquist, Leona Toker, Jeffrey Veidlinger, and Elhanan Yakira. It is also a pleasure to acknowledge the assistance of Meghan Clark, who efficiently and cheerfully helped me prepare the manuscript of this book for publication. I am grateful to Indiana University for awarding me a sabbatical research leave during the fall semester 2009 and to Andrea Ciccarelli, the director of the university’s College Arts and Humanities Institute (CAHI), for a research fellowship during spring 2010. Both awards made it possible for me to read and write in a more focused way than otherwise would have been possible. I thank the following for permission to reprint earlier versions of some of the material in this book: The Jean and Samuel Frankel Center for Judaic Studies, of the University of Michigan, for permission to reprint an earlier version of “The Americanization of the Holocaust,” which appeared as the David W. Belin Lecture in American Jewish Affairs. The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, for permission to reprint material from “Anne Frank and the Future of Holocaust Memory,” the Joseph and Rebecca Meyerhoff Annual Lecture, available as an occasional paper from the Museum’s Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies, copyright 2005 by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Northwestern University Press, for permission to reprint material from “Popularization and Memory: The Case of Anne Frank,” fromLessons and Legacies: The Meaning of the Holocaust in a Changing World, edited by Peter Hayes (1991). The American Jewish Committee, for permission to reprint material from “The Assault on Holocaust Memory,”American Jewish Year Book(2001). The American Labor Conference on International Affairs, Inc., for permission to reprint commentary on Imre Kertész and Elie Wiesel, which previously appeared inThe New Leader2004 and (November/December
anuary/February 2009). The Weekly Standard for permission to reprint material that originally appeared in “Exploiting Anne Frank,” which was first published on June 23, 2008. For more information
This is a book about victims and survivors of the Holocaust. It reflects some of the ways we have come to think about such people and also about ourselves in relationship to them. Above and beyond these matters, my concern is with changing perceptions of the Holocaust within contemporary culture and with the impact of certain cultural pressures and values on our sense of this particular past. It is a gruesome past, yet also an unavoidable one. “Unavoidable” is not the same as “acceptable,” however; and, as I shall argue, the history of the Holocaust becomes broadly acceptable only as its basic narrative undergoes change of a kind that enables large numbers of people to identify with it. At the core of this process of transformation and identification lies the fate of the victims and survivors—their memories, stories, and future status as imagined figures within a continually evolving narrative of the Nazi crimes against the Jews. By referring to the victims and survivors as “imagined figures,” I am aware that I run the risk of being misunderstood. Obviously, such people were and are real people, who were forced to undergo real and terrible suffering. None of that is at issue here. What is at issue are the sources of our knowledge of their suffering. In looking at these sources, especially in their more popular forms, attention inevitably is directed to the narrative potency of literature and other forms of cultural representation as readily as it is drawn to the documentary sources of most history writing. The emphasis on narrative—on the telling as much as on what is being told—is here by design, for only by acknowledging it can we hope to understand how the past reaches most of us at all. History, in this sense of it, therefore, implicates both the event and its representation. And its representation, as Yosef Yerushalmi has put it, is 1 being shaped “not at the historian’s anvil, but in the novelist’s crucible.” The historian’s role is and will remain crucial to uncovering the past, yet historical memory broadly conceived may depend less on the record of events drawn up by scholars than on the projection of these events by writers, filmmakers, artists, and others. Here is how Raul Hilberg, a scholar distinguished by his insistence on mastery of the essential historical documents, has described the situation I am seeking to clarify: “To portray the Holocaust, Claude Lanzmann once said to me, one has to create a work of art. … The artist usurps the actuality, substituting a text for a reality that is fast fading. The words that are thus written take the place of the past; these words, rather 2 than the events themselves, will be remembered.” Imre Kertész, the Hungarian-Jewish writer and Nobel Prize winner, who personally suffered
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