Emotion and Memory of the Holocaust Essays

Emotion and Memory of the Holocaust Essays

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In the aftermath of the Jewish Holocaust, an outpouring of eyewitness accounts by both survivors and perpetrators has surfaced as historical evidence. For many, this has determined what modern popular culture remembers about this atrocious event. Emotion obviously plays a vital role in the accounts of the survivors, yet can it be considered when discussing the historical significance of the murder of six million European Jews by the Third Reich? Emotion is the expression of thoughts and beliefs affected by feeling and sensibility of an individual regarding a certain event or individual. In terms of the Holocaust, emotion is overwhelmingly prevalent in the survivors’ tales of their experiences, conveyed in terms of life, death, and survival. As scholars often point out, the Holocaust evokes strong sentiments, and transmits and reinforces basic societal values. Through in-depth observation of various forms of media sources, this paper will argue that emotion and the lack thereof, as a repercussion of the Holocaust, through the testimonies of those who survived its trials and tribulations, has played an enormous role in determining historical knowledge of the genocide.

In analyzing the stories which survivors of the concentration camps and their perpetrators have put forth as historical evidence supporting the findings of scholars, one must pose the question: where does fact end and emotional distortion of the subject begin? It is critical to approach this question with great care, so as to note that not all historical accounts of the Holocaust by survivors and perpetrators are laden with emotional input and a multilayered interpretation of the event. In her acclaimed article “Memory, Distortion, and History in the...

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...e Museum.”. History and Theory, Volume 36, Number 4, Theme Issue 36. December 1997

8. Greenspan, Henry. On Listening to Holocaust Survivors. Westport, Ct. Praeger Publishers. 1998.

9. Kramer, Stanley. Judgement at Nuremberg. 1961.

10. Levi, Primo. Survival in Auschwitz. New York, N.Y. Touchstone. 1996.

11. Lewy, Guenter. The Nazi Persecution of the Gypsies. Oxford, England. Oxford University Press. 2000.

12. Spielberg, Steven. Survivors of the Holocaust. 1996.

13. United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

14. Wiesel, Elie. Night. United States of America. Bantam Publishing Group. 1958.

15. Wyszogrod, Morris. A Brush with Death. Albany, N.Y. State University of New York Press. 1999.

16. Young, James. “Toward a Received History of the Holocaust.” History and Theory, Volume 36, Number 4, Theme Issue 36. December 1997.

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