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Auschwitz revisited?

ucyow3c5 June 2014

pencil-iconWritten by Phil Leask, Honorary Research Associate in UCL SELCS (UCL German)

The Auschwitz story – murder on a vast scale, planned, programmed, administered and executed by the Nazis in accordance with an ideology – is too terrible, requiring only homage, beyond the bounds of revisiting, reinterpreting and coolly analysing.

auschwitz awkward

Auschwitz

Or is it?

That was the central question in the UCL Festival of the Arts event Awkward approaches to Auschwitz on 29 June. Three years into their major project funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, the Reverberations of War group from the School of European Languages, Culture and Society revisited Auschwitz. Literally.

They went there and looked, took photos, checked distances, traced the patterns of movement of those doing the killing and those taken to be killed, roamed around the vast complex beyond where the tourists go, located factories and factory sites where slave labour had been used and people had been worked to death, and tried to see it both as it had been and in its present-day context.

Then came the awkward questions …

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Oblivion and memorialisation: legacies of Nazi persecution in Europe

Thea G R Cassel6 February 2014

With the approach of Holocaust Memorial Day, this Lunch Hour Lecture was aptly timed. I entered the lecture with feelings of interest and curiosity, but also inevitable apprehension

Auschwitz entrance Credit –http://www.flickr.com/photos/kasiaflickr/

Auschwitz entrance
Credit http://www.flickr.com/photos/kasiaflickr/

Having attended another of Professor Mary Fulbrook’s (UCL German) lectures on the Holocaust at last year’s UCL Festival of the Arts, I knew that she was a passionate and brilliant speaker who provokes the audience into questioning not just what has happened in the past, but also how we remember it today.

However, the subject being as sensitive and traumatic as it is, I wasn’t expecting an easy ride. I was pleasantly surprised.

Remembered sites
Professor Fulbrook didn’t delve too far into gory details and instead focused on the places and people we remember from the Holocaust, and what they tell us about what and who we remember at the expense of others who have been marginalised by our memorialisation.

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Choosing to Remember/Choosing to Forget: Shaping legacies of a violent past

news editor13 May 2013

How do victims cope with the atrocities that were committed during the Holocaust? What’s more, how do the perpetrators?

This Festival of the Arts panel session on 9 May addressed different elements of how people struggle to remember or forget their experiences of the Holocaust. It was not, as I had expected, about the psychology behind memory loss or recall following traumatic events; rather about how strategies of coping can manifest itself in various forms such as film, literature and discourse.

Holocaust Memorial Berlin
Holocaust Memorial, Berlin, courtesy of Daniel Foster on Flickr

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Honouring the Righteous

Robert Eagle3 May 2012

I have always thought that the Italian military from the 1920s until 1943 were simply fascists and puppets of the Nazis. At UCL on 24 April, Holocaust survivor Imre Rochlitz and his son Joseph presented the easily forgotten account of many Italian soldiers’ determination to thwart the transfer of up to 30,000 Jews into German hands during WWII.

Titled Honouring the Righteous, in recognition of both Holocaust survivors and those who saved their lives, the event was organised by the UCL European Institute, the UCL School of Slavonic and East European Studies (SSEES) and the UCL Department of Hebrew and Jewish Studies.

Joseph Rochlitz screened his 1994 documentary, The Righteous Enemy, which illuminated how Italian soldiers repeatedly disobeyed demands from Nazi officials to hand over Jews from Italian-occupied Croatia, Greece and southern France. Interviews with Italian commanders revealed their determination to undermine even direct orders from Mussolini to comply with Nazi directives.

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