Picturing Grief: Soviet Holocaust Photography at the Intersection of History and Memory
01 Feb 2010-The American Historical Review (Oxford University Press)-Vol. 115, Iss: 1, pp 28-52
TL;DR: The field of Holocaust photography has been largely overlooked by historians as mentioned in this paper, which is surprising given the deep interest in questions of Holocaust history and memory that historians such as Saul Friedlander, Charles Maier and Jeffrey Herf have wrestled with since the 1980s.
Abstract: DESPITE THE EXTENSIVE BOOKSHELF of historical works about World War II and the Holocaust, the scholarly study of war and Holocaust photography has generally been carried out not by historians, but by journalists or cultural theorists. Scholars generally use these “photographs of trauma,” to quote Ulrich Baer, to explore the nature and meaning of photography. The late critic Susan Sontag did much to raise awareness of the power of photography, and her 2004 book Regarding the Pain of Others reflects in depth on the function that war photography plays (or doesn’t play) in politics and national memory.1 Historians have rarely touched the field of Holocaust photography. This is a major gap, especially since photography and film were the primary means of representing the war visually to the public worldwide, and because they have become primary means of memorializing the Holocaust. It is also surprising given the deep interest in questions of Holocaust history and memory that historians such as Saul Friedlander, Charles Maier, and Jeffrey Herf have wrestled with since the 1980s. In fact, one could argue that it was the attempt to historicize the Holocaust that forced historians to engage in theoretical questions about history and memory, as a result
TL;DR: In this paper, the first major investigation of the Holocaust in wartime Soviet music and its connection to questions of Soviet Jewish identity is presented, and the authors trace the genesis of this work in Gnesin's web of experiences before and during the war.
Abstract: This article offers the first major investigation of the Holocaust in wartime Soviet music and its connection to questions of Soviet Jewish identity. Moving beyond the consistent focus on Dmitrii Shostakovich's 1962 Symphony no. 13 ﹛Babi Yar),I present an alternative locus for the beginnings of Soviet musical representations of the Nazi genocide in a now forgotten composition by the Soviet Jewish composer Mikhail Gnesin, his 1943 Piano Trio, “In Memory of Our Perished Children.” I trace the genesis of this work in Gnesin's web of experiences before and during the war, examining Gnesin's careful strategy of deliberate aesthetic ambiguity in depicting death—Jewish and Soviet, individual and collective. Recapturing this forgotten cultural genealogy provides a very different kind of European historical soundtrack for the Holocaust. Instead of the categories of survivor and bystander, wartime witness and postwar remembrance,we find a more ambiguous form of early Holocaust memory. The story of how the Holocaust first entered Soviet music challenges our contemporary assumptions about the coherence and legitimacy of Holocaust musicas a category of cultural history and present-day performance.
01 Jan 2019
TL;DR: In this article, the authors argue that these individual digital images function as objects of postmemory, contributing to and cultivating an accessible visual and digital archive of the Holocaust, and demonstrate that though the number of Holocaust survivors become fewer in number, the act of remembering the genocide can be coded into the everyday behaviour of the amateur photographers featured in this work.
Abstract: Everyday people make use of Instagram to visually share their experiences encountering Holocaust memory. Whether individuals are sharing their photos from Auschwitz, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, or of the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe in Berlin, this dissertation uncovers the impetus to capture and share these images by the thousands. Using visuality as a framework for analyzing how the Holocaust has been seen, photographed, and communicated historically, this dissertation argues that these individual digital images function as objects of postmemory, contributing to and cultivating an accessible visual and digital archive. Sharing these images on Instagram results in a visual, grassroots archival space where networked Holocaust visuality and memory can flourish. The Holocaust looms large in public memory. Drawing from Holocaust studies, public history, photography theory, and new media studies, this dissertation argues that the amateur Instagram image is far from static. Existing spaces of Holocaust memory create preconditions for everyday publics to share their encounters with the Holocaust on their own terms. Thus, the final networked Instagram image is the product of a series of author interventions, carefully wrought from competing narratives and Holocaust representations. The choice to photograph, edit, post, and hashtag one's photo forges a public method for collaborating with hegemonic memory institutions. This work brings together seemingly disparate sources to find commonality between Instagram images, museum guestbook entries, online reviews, former concentration camps, and major Holocaust memorials and museums. This research, one of the first studies of Holocaust visual culture on Instagram, underscores the fluidity of Holocaust memory in the twenty-first century. While amateur photography at solemn sites has sparked concern, this dissertation demonstrates that though the number of Holocaust survivors become fewer in number, the act of remembering the genocide can be coded into the everyday behaviour of the amateur photographers featured in this work. This work not only shares authority with everyday publics in their efforts to remember and memorialize the Holocaust but reminds us that seemingly small and individual acts of remembrance can coalesce, contributing to a fluid and accessible archive of visual memory.
28 Jun 2015
TL;DR: In this paper, the authors used an interdisciplinary historical, cultural and sociological approach to establish the mechanism and dynamics of the construction of the war myth in Novorossiisk under the Brezhnev government and its propagation today under the Putin regime.
Abstract: The 1943 battle to free the Black Sea port of Novorossiisk from German occupation during World War II was fought from the beach head of Malaia zemlia, held for seven months by Soviet landing troops, including the young Leonid Brezhnev. The heroes of this campaign are commemorated through an amalgam of memoir, monuments and ritual, rendered particularly paradoxical by the discrepancy between the insignificance of the campaign at the time and the importance attributed to it retrospectively. Novorossiisk appears to have been honoured as a Hero City due to myth alone, largely dependent upon Brezhnev’s political influence when leader of the Soviet Union. Using an interdisciplinary historical, cultural and sociological approach, this thesis establishes the mechanism and dynamics of the construction of the war myth in Novorossiisk under the Brezhnev government and its propagation today under the Putin regime. This research on the sociology of myth making in an authoritarian political environment adds significantly to scholarship of the war cults prevalent in the late Soviet Union and contemporary post Soviet Russia. Based on an analysis of agency, I demonstrate that, despite pervading state influence on remembrance of the war, there is still scope for the local community and even the individual in memory construction. This is a case study with wider political and social connotations, linking the individual citizens of Novorossiisk with evolving state policy since the war. Through the prism of this minor Hero City, the complexity of myth and memory is revealed, as new evidence is brought to bear on a myth that most Russians consider dead, along with Brezhnev and the Soviet Union. This work demonstrates that the myth of Malaia zemlia is still relevant as much more than just local history for citizens of Novorossiisk today, remaining an integral part of its identity seventy years after the end of the war.
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