Memorializing Atrocities: The Problems of Censorship and Fleeting Memory within Eastern European Holocaust Sites
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Since 1945, memories of the Holocaust have gradually faded around the world. Using a combination of firsthand accounts by Holocaust survivors and Soviet soldiers who liberated Auschwitz, as well as scholarly articles on the Holocaust and its memorialization, this paper investigates the factors that have contributed to the disappearance of memory during and after World War II in Eastern European areas formerly controlled by the Soviet Union. This research focuses on efforts to erase memories of the Holocaust carried out by Nazi officials who hid and destroyed memories of extermination camps such as Belzec. In addition, this research explores the Soviet government’s censorship, which manipulated collective memory and memorialization efforts. This censorship included Stalin’s fight to commemorate Russian victimization, the suppression of literature such as Ilya Erhenburg’s The Black Book, and the handling of the memorialization at Babi Yar, one of the most notorious Holocaust sites. A third attempt to repress memories of the Holocaust occurred at the regional level after the war. In the Ukrainian towns of Tulchin and Pechora, for example, a lack of funds and a decline of Holocaust survivors and eyewitnesses led to a struggle over whether or not to maintain or completely abandon memorials. Even Auschwitz, the most well known of all Holocaust sites, has experienced a battle over the gradual loss and misconstruction of memory. There is an ongoing effort to present history to the public through survivors’ experiences, organized trips, and documents and artifacts—each of which carry their own problems. My paper argues that, although the memory of the Holocaust may always stick with humankind, previous attempts to erase or manipulate evidence combined with the expanding amount of time between postwar and present day will make it increasingly more difficult to memorialize the truth of such a momentous event.
Holocaust, Jewish (1939-1945)
Holocaust memorial tours
Holocaust, Jewish (1939-1945)--Historiography
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