Collection “Between History and Memory”
Proceedings of a symposium which took place from 23 to 25 May 2013 in the International Press Center of the Residence Palace and the Royal Library of Belgium.
Whilst the large-scale massacres in the East have gained unprecedented visibility, and more than a million people visit Auschwitz each year, recognition of the Sonderkommando and the Arbeitsjuden as first-hand witnesses of the “Holocaust by gassing” is long in coming. Is the gassing episode being obliterated? Do we still consider those agents – the forced labour crew of the most sophisticated mass killing machine of modern times – pariahs of history and memory? For the first time in Europe, readers can find an overview of historiographical and testimonial accounts susceptible of initiating a discussion on the place these men occupy in the memory of the Holocaust and the Nazi terror. The volume contains articles from prominent experts in the field.
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Previous Titles :
Frediano Sessi, Auschwitz. 1940-1945, 2014, 267 p. (no. 10)
Built quickly in 1940 by adapting and expanding Polish army barracks, Auschwitz was transformed in less than two years into a concentration camp and killing center mainly intended for the Jews of Europe, but also for the Romani, for Soviet prisoners of war upon whom gassing was first tested, and for deportees deemed too weak to work. Using his research in the archives of the Auschwitz Museum and testimony from survivors, and in dialogue with studies by the most reputable historians, Frediano Sessi reconstructs daily life in the complex of unparalleled terror that included the main camp (Auschwitz I), Birkenau (Auschwitz II), and Buna-Monowitz (Auschwitz III). This study, at once detailed and accessible to all readers, meets the requirements set by Primo Levi: every man must know that Auschwitz existed and what was perpetrated there, because if understanding is impossibly, knowing is imperative.
Peter Kuon, L'écriture des revenants. Lecture de témoignages de la déportation politique, 2014, 456 p. (no. 9) [The Writings of Those Who Returned: Reading Accounts of Political Deportation]
What to do with the hundreds and thousands of documents left to us by survivors of the National Socialist concentration and extermination camps? The texts can seem monotonous and repetitive; unreliable, according to historians; awkwardly written, from a literary point of view. The author proposes an approach to reading these texts that listens to returnees as they seek words to express an ungraspable reality. By creating dialogue among texts addressing common experiences (arrival; progressive dehumanization; discovering inner resources for defence; liberation), he reveals in the habits of uneven writing – between the spoken and the unspoken – the subjective truth of the testimony, literary or not.
Sila Cehreli, Témoignage du Khurbn: La résistance juive dans les centres de mise à mort – Chełmno, Bełżec, Sobibór, Treblinka [Testimony of the Khurbn: Jewish Resistance in the Nazi Killing Centres – Chełmno, Bełżec, Sobibór, Treblinka], foreword by Jean-François Forges, 2013, 280 p. (no. 8)
For the first time a study in French specifically addresses the camps built by the SS in Poland from 1941 to 1943 to gassing Jews, first from the ghettos of Poland, later from the whole of Europe. On the basis of archival documents and testimonies, this book describes what the Jewish resistance meant in Chełmno, Bełżec, Sobibór and Treblinka: four sites of Nazi genocidal policy from witch the SS were keen to erase the traces after being dismantled. Despite the large historiography of the Holocaust, these camps have so far been very little at the centre of academic research. To show how groups of Jews resisted, as soon as they could, Sila Cehreli carefully reconstructs the functioning of these genocidal camps of the operation called Aktion Reinhard.
Paul Bernard-Nouraud, Se figurer l’autre: Essai sur la figure du “musulman” dans les camps de concentration nazis [To picture the Other: Essay on the “Muslim” in Nazi Concentration Camps], 2013, 306 p. (n° 7)
The figure of the “Muzelman” as it was described by the surviving witnesses of the Nazi camps and studied by academics, remains problematic. The origin of the term is obscure, and its analysis remains complicated by the many issues raised by the concentration and genocidal Nazi phenomenon. To picture the other undertakes a further analysis trying to clarify the contours of the figure. A review of published evidence, as well as drawings made in the camps, allows it to detect the signs of a world of representations that have presided over the formation of the “Muzelman”. At the root of these processes of evocation stands colonial and Orientalist visions coming from the Nazi ideology. For such imaging to be able to reach the camps, the Nazi myth must itself be considered as a process of figuration after which the actual compliance with its representations to produce aberrant figures such as that of “Muslim/Muzelman”.
Zalmen Gradowski, Écrits I et II: Témoignages d’un Sonderkommando d’Auschwitz [Writings I & II: Testimony of a Sonderkommando in Auschwitz], 2013, 240 p. (no. 6)
Daniel Weyssow (ed.), Les Caves de la Gestapo: Reconnaissance et conservation [The Gestapo’s Cellars: Recognition and Preservation], 2013, 213 p. (no. 5)
Proceedings of the one-day conference (21 October 2011), Royal Library of Belgium
Building numbers 453, 347 and 510 of one of the most beautiful streets of Brussels, Avenue Louise, were requisitioned during the Second World War by the Gestapo. They became true torture centers, the walls of their cellars are still covered with inscriptions and drawings depicting the despair and the last will of the prisoners. However, until now, none of these buildings have received any recognition. This collection is composed of contributions from specialists as well as survivors and have two vocations:
- Raise awareness among government officials and politicians that this forgotten memory must finally be recognized.
- Give the readers a thorough study of scientific significance of these places and of other similar sites (Breendonk, Cologne, Krakow, Fresnes, and Romainville).
Original text: Grégory Célerse (Local historian and researcher at the Museum of Resistance of Bondues), Le siège de la Gestapo de La Madeleine (Lille) (pdf) [The Gestapo headquarters of La Madeleine (Lille)]
The preservation of the cellars of Avenue Louise in question: Daniel Weyssow, La journée d'étude en débats. Table ronde et interpellations parlementaires (pdf) [The conference in discussions. Roundtable and parliamentary questions]
Additional photographs to those presented in the following contributions of the volume:
Karola Fings, D’une cave d’archives vers un lieu de mémoire d’importance européenne. Les inscriptions murales de la EL-DE Haus et le lieu de mémoire « Prison de la Gestapo » [From a cellar full of archives to a memorial of European importance. The wall inscriptions of the EL-DE Haus and the place of remembrance “Gestapo Prison”] (Gallery)
Anny Dayan Rosenman, Fransiska Louwagie (eds.), Un Ciel de sang et de cendres: Piotr Rawicz et la solitude du témoin [A Sky of Blood and Ashes: Piotr Rawicz and the Loneliness of the Witness], 2013, 476 p. (no. 4)
The book brings together texts by literary critics and scholars for whom Blood from the Sky is one of the most significant literary works written after the Holocaust. It also gathers texts by some of his friends – including writers such as Hélène Cixous, Elie Wiesel and Danilo Kis – as well as some of his lesser-known texts and pages of his unpublished diary.
Alain Kleinberger, Philippe Mesnard (eds.), La Shoah: Théâtre et cinéma aux limites de la représentation [The Holocaust: Theatre and Film at the Limits of Representation], 2013, 543 p. (no. 3)
Beyond the polemics on the inability to illustrate the Holocaust, the contributors to this volume – amongst the leading specialists in the field – have questioned the technical, aesthetic and ethical possibilities that a work of fiction dissimulates when addressing such a subject. Each speaker delivers a study of one or more works over a period stretching from the end of the war until the 2000s, from the 1940s black & white television movies till today. If it is not a debate or a criticism on the representation of this genocide that is discussed, the originality of this work does not stop there. To better understand the resources and issues facing the cinema event deemed intractable, it was necessary to involve the theater and its immemorial science about cruelty on stage. In this respect, this volume is unprecedented.
Roman R. Kent, My Dog Lala: La touchante histoire vraie d'un jeune garçon et de son chien durant l'Holocauste [My Dog Lala: The Moving True Story of a Young Boy and His Dog during the Holocaust], followed by: Gustavo Corni, Le ghetto de Lódz/Litzmannstadt de 1940 à 1944: L'illusion d'une production et d'une autonomie juive autocratique [The Lódz/Litzmannstadt Ghetto from 1940 to 1944: The Illusion of Autocratic Jewish Production and Autonomy], translated from English by Céline Denis, 2012, 54 p. (no. 2)
Roman R. Kent draws on his memory and reconstitutes his innocent child’s viewpoint to tell us how a Jewish family fell from a peaceful life in Lódz, Poland, into a world where it lost everything it had possessed before the German occupation and found itself shut up in a ghetto. Accompanied by a young dog which becomes a symbol of hesitant humanity, the author takes us to the threshold of the Shoah. This brief account by a survivor is accompanied by a historical study by Gustavo Corni of the Lódz ghetto. The reader thus discovers both sides of the tragedy in progress.
The two texts are completed by a collection of photos of the Lódz ghetto in 1941-1942.
Andreas Huyssen, La hantise de l’oubli: Essais sur les résurgences du passé [Haunted by Forgetting: Essays on the Resurgence of the Past], foreword by Philippe Mesnard, translated from English by Julie de Faramond and Justine Malle, 2011, 168 p. (no. 1)
The work of Andreas Huyssen is translated and known throughout the world. This collection finally offers the French-speaking public a collection of his texts illustrating his reflections on memory. The author offers a detailed study of works by Anselm Kiefer, Art Spiegelman and W. G. Sebald and a comparative analysis of works produced in the two Germanys, and re-examines the philosophers of the Frankfurt School. His fields of investigation also include public events, including the portrayal of traumatic historical events, policies of the commemoration, conservation and building or destruction of monuments concerning the Shoah, and 9/11.
Andreas Huyssen is the Villard Professor of German and Comparative Literature at Columbia University, where he has taught since 1986. He is the founding director of the university's Center for Comparative Literature and Society and one of the founding editors of the New German Critique, the leading journal of German studies in the United States.