The Perversion of Holocaust Memory: Writing and Rewriting the Past after 1989

Journal article


Larissa Allwork 2023. The Perversion of Holocaust Memory: Writing and Rewriting the Past after 1989. German History. Vol 41 (Issue 2), p. 321–323. https://doi.org/10.1093/gerhis/ghad004
AuthorsLarissa Allwork
Abstract

Judith M. Hughes’s monograph clearly states its intention: ‘My new book has been prompted by reflections—and distress—at recent efforts to minimize the Holocaust and to play down the anti-Semitism that lay at its root’ (p. viii). The historical context that Hughes invokes for her analysis of Germany, France, Poland and Hungary is the contrast between post-1989 state efforts at confronting the Holocaust after the end of the Cold War and the presence in more recent years of radical right governments (Poland, Hungary) and political parties (Germany, France) who turn away from this imperative. For Hughes, the ‘perversion of Holocaust memory’ constitutes the refusal of national governments and societies to acknowledge instances of active participation and/or local collaboration in the crimes of the Holocaust (p. 105). This refusal is often accompanied by a desire to emphasize the condition of national ‘victimhood’ during the Second World War. Polemical in tone, Hughes’s work is both novel and problematic in claiming the direct influence of historians on this process. Her book becomes a defence of historians such as Saul Friedländer who have stressed ‘the moral rupture’ of the Holocaust (p. viii) and, conversely, posits a particularly aggressive critique of the historical and narrative approach adopted by Timothy Snyder in Bloodlands (2010).

KeywordsAnti-semitism; Government; Holocaust; Reflections
Year2023
JournalGerman History
Journal citationVol 41 (Issue 2), p. 321–323
Publishergerman history society
ISSN1477-089X
0266-3554
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1093/gerhis/ghad004
Web address (URL)https://doi.org/10.1093/gerhis/ghad004
Output statusPublished
Publication dates
Online30 Jan 2023
Jun 2023
Publication process dates
Deposited07 Jun 2023
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