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Memory of the Holocaust in Postcommunist Europe

Jewish Medical Association with the Institute of Jewish Studies, UCL

Tuesday, 21 January 2014 from 18:00 to 19:30 (GMT)

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In 1945, only a few grasped the extent of the destruction of East European Jews and their civilization and the implication of this loss for the region. Today, the Holocaust has become the European paradigm of lieu de mémoire and the universal icon of evil. Most recently some have claimed the Holocaust an international paradigm of human rights. These developments have evolved in different directions, creating greater understanding of the impact of the Holocaust on the one hand, and on the other making poor analogies and producing competing narratives of martyrdom. In Europe, in spite of the establishment of the International Day of Holocaust Remembrance (27 January), the memory of the Holocaust does not cease to cause tensions between the West and the postcommunist countries. The presentation discusses the two major stages of the process of restoration of memory of the Holocaust in postcommunist Europe and argues that in order to understand its ongoing dynamics three key dimensions recurring in the landscape of memory of Jews and the Holocaust should be considered: remembering to remember, remembering to benefit, and remembering to forget. By studying these dimensions carefully, we learn the nature of the reconceptualization of Jews and the Holocaust, and the limits of the recognition and integration of the “dark past” by broader multigenerational sections of postcommunist societies

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