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February 12 , 2009

The Holocaust as Active Memory

The Past in the Present


The ways in which memories of the Holocaust have been communicated, represented and used have changed dramatically over the years. From such memories being neglected and silenced in most of Europe until the 1970s, each country has subsequently gone through a process of cultural, political and pedagogical awareness-rising. This culminated in the ‘Stockholm conference on Holocaust commemoration’ in 2000, which resulted in the constitution of a task force dedicated to transmitting and teaching knowledge and awareness about the Holocaust on a global scale. The silence surrounding private memories of the Holocaust has also been challenged in many families.

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What are the catalysts that trigger a change from silence to discussion of the Holocaust? What happens when we talk its invisibility away? How are memories of the Holocaust reflected in different social environments? Who asks questions about memories of the Holocaust, and which answers do they find, at which point in time and from which past and present positions related to their societies and to the phenomenon in question? This book highlights the contexts in which such questions are asked. By introducing the concept of ‘active memory’, this book contributes to recent developments in memory studies, where memory is increasingly viewed not in isolation but as a dynamic and relational part of human lives.

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