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The Rescue Turn and the Politics of Holocaust Memory

This volume considers the uses and misuses of the memory of assistance given to Jews during the Holocaust, deliberated in local, national, and transnational contexts. History of this aid has drawn the attention of scholars and the general public alike. Stories of heroic citizens who hid and rescued Jewish men, women, and children have been adapted into books, films, plays, public commemorations, and museum exhibitions. Yet, emphasis on the uplifting narratives often obscures the history of violence and complicity with Nazi policies of persecution and mass murder. Each of the ten essays in this interdisciplinary collection is dedicated to a different country: Belarus, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, North Macedonia, the Netherlands, Poland, Slovakia, and Ukraine. The case studies provide new insights into what has emerged as one of the most prominent and visible trends in recent Holocaust memory and memory politics. While many of the essays focus on recent developments, they also shed light on the evolution of this phenomenon since 1945.

About the Authors

Natalia Aleksiun is the Harry Rich Professor of Holocaust Studies at the University of Florida, Gainesville. Her research focuses on the history of East European Jewry, Polish-Jewish relations, and the Holocaust. She is the author of Conscious History: Polish Jewish Historians before the Holocaust. She has also edited numerous collections on the history of Polish Jews and the Holocaust including Polin, vol. 29: "Writing Jewish History in Eastern Europe," and European Holocaust Studies, vol. 3: "Places, Spaces and Voids in the Holocaust." Raphael Utz is a historian of Eastern Europe at the Deutsches Historisches Museum in Berlin, specializing in the history of the German occupation of Europe in the Second World War and in Holocaust aftermath studies. He is the author of Rußlands unbrauchbare Vergangenheit and editor of The Russian Revolution of 1905 in Transcultural Perspective and Orte der Shoah in Polen. Zofia Wóycicka is assistant professor at the Faculty of Sociology at the University of Warsaw specializing in memory and museum studies. She is the author of Arrested Mourning: Memory of the Nazi Camps in Poland, 1944–1950 and coeditor of Memory Studies, vol. 15, no. 6: "Mnemonic Wars: New Constellations." She has also published numerous articles in handbooks, edited volumes, and peer-reviewed journals including History & Memory, Memory Studies, and Holocaust Studies.


"This collection offers an enlightening European tour of Holocaust commemorations. The case studies analyze the rescue turn: a growing emphasis on assistance given to Jews in memory politics, observable at international, national, and individual levels. Written by an interdisciplinary team of proficient researchers, this volume gives fresh insights on how the image of the rescuer both relates to globalization of Holocaust memory and to scant national sensibilities, eager to promote a guilt-free and politically usable narrative, often tending to blur their responsibilities."—Audrey Kichelewski, associate professor in contemporary history, University of Strasbourg

"In this timely volume, scholars from diverse disciplines scrutinize Holocaust narratives of rescue efforts in ten European countries. Illuminating the intricacies of memory deployment, they offer insightful analysis on the cosmopolitanization of memories and the contestations that ensue. A must-read for anyone interested in the politics of historical memories."—Daniel Levy, professor of sociology, Stony Brook University

"The assistance, both individual and collective, provided to Jews by their neighbors during the Holocaust is one of the few heartening features of this tragic period. In recent years, with the widespread rise of populism, this has often been instrumentalized to provide a more positive image of the national past during the Nazi occupations and to obscure the fact that assistance of this type was never widespread and often went side-by-side with cooperation with the Nazis in carrying out the anti-Jewish genocide. This comprehensive and well-researched volume provides a balanced evaluation of these hotly disputed issues in ten European countries. It is essential reading for all those interested in the complex and difficult questions of assistance, indifference, and collaboration under Nazi occupation."—Antony Polonsky, emeritus professor of Holocaust studies, Brandeis University

"Since the Holocaust became a European foundational past, and the question of the reactions of 'bystanders' one of its most controversial themes, its better understanding is of more than academic importance. This comprehensive volume offers advanced analysis of relevant politics in key European countries and insightful case studies, pointing to some highly disturbing tendencies."—Dariusz Stola, professor, Polish Academy of Sciences

"This volume is a significant multidisciplinary contribution to scholarship on the public valorization of narratives of rescue. Bringing together established and emerging scholars, this anthology draws attention to the different scales of the representation of rescue at transnational, national, local, and individual levels and explores their relationships in public discourse across different national contexts."—Hannah Holtschneider, professor of contemporary Jewish cultural history, University of Edinburgh

9780814349502 : the-rescue-turn-and-the-politics-of-holocaust-memory-aleksiun-woycicka-utz
March 5, 2024
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