The immediate trigger may have been the publication of Albert Speer's memoirs, a clever mixture of fascination with Hitler and nostalgia for the power and the glory of those years, with but a vague mention of the criminal dimension of it all. Thus, Joachim Fest's hugely successful biography of Hitler Fest was Speer's ghostwriter led to Fest's film Hitler: Eine Karriere ; in the two hours it took to narrate Hitler's titanic rise and fall, two minutes or so dealt with Nazi crimes.
The film was taken off German screens after a very short run: it was too much. No such qualms surfaced in France. The Hitler wave vanished at the end of the s. It was then, however, that the real visual bombshell exploded.
The Holocaust: History in an Hour
The Hollywood production followed the parallel stories of a Jewish and a Nazi family and of their contrary fate. The public impact of Holocaust was hardly believable; while tens, probably hundreds of millions of people saw it worldwide, in Germany many of its around thirty million viewers publicly wondered why they had never heard of the events described Hollywood had created a memory that now demanded completion and interpretation.
The world of film itself did not remain immune to controversy. It describes the everyday life of the inhabitants of Schabbach, a fictional village in the Hunsrueck, in the west of Germany — in fact describing Reitz's own place of birth, childhood, and adolescence. The chronicle begins on the morrow of World War I and follows the life of several families through the Depression, the Third Reich, and the American occupation, into the Federal Republic and on into the sixties.
Two further parts, produced later, carry the story forward in time. In Reitz's view, it was the arrival of the Americans and the modernization that followed which destroyed the villagers' essentially rooted world. This was the real catastrophe. A year after the screening of that first part of Reitz's series, the French—Jewish director Claude Lanzmann released Shoah , a nine-hour film based on interviews, mainly with Jewish survivors, Poles, and some Germans, all of it centred on the extermination as such.
Thus, on the screens as in historiography, a confrontation of sorts marked the years immediately preceding the unification of Germany. The holocaust culture may have produced a surfeit of memory. Thus, tossed around across contemporary global media and electronic communication, the memory of the Holocaust has often been vulgarized and misused. Since the turn of the century, history has been growing increasingly independent of the vagaries of public memory. And, as mentioned earlier, the sense of distance from the actual events, inherent in the passage of time, greatly contributed to the autonomy of historical writing.
It may be so in general terms. All in all however, the debate has moved to a different sphere. What the grandchildren heard from their grandparents were tales of personal ignorance, non-participation, even of help to the victims.
History and Memory: Lessons from the Holocaust
Age wise, they are the grandparents of Welzer's study. At the outset, the regime's brainwashing pushes two of the youngsters to take thoroughly bad, even criminal decisions, but very soon each of them recognizes that they have been fooled and led astray. Two pay for the mistake with their lives. In short, not only did these ordinary young Germans not support the Nazi regime, they ultimately became its victims. You can suggest to your library or institution to subscribe to the program OpenEdition Freemium for books. Feel free to give our address: contact openedition.
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Cite Share. Cited by. History and Memory: Lessons from the Holocaust Text. Full text. Age Groups 7 The self-imposed amnesia about the Reich's criminal policies, which descended on Western Germany during the s and early s, is notorious. The Function of Images 24 Memory, both individual and collective, is a story we tell and images we keep.
The Globalization of Memory 35 A few years before the turn of the twenty-first century, as economic globalization and its social and cultural ripple effects spread, Hollywood, once again, produced a story of the Holocaust that reached hundreds of millions of people, adding another worldwide layer of artificial memory to the pre-existing representation of these events.
Some Open Questions 39 Couldn't it be that seventy years after the end of the war, in the wake of the globalization of Holocaust memory, the typical controversies about historical responsibility would have disappeared from Western, particularly German, public debate? Read Open Access. Freemium Recommend to your library for acquisition.
ISBN: DOI: In History and Memory: Lessons from the Holocaust. New edition [online]. Your e-mail has be sent. Size: small x px Medium x px Large x px. Over nine hours long and 11 years in the making, the film presents Lanzmann's interviews with survivors, witnesses and perpetrators during visits to German Holocaust sites across Poland , including extermination camps.
The entire minute film was digitally restored and remastered by The Criterion Collection over —13 in 2k resolution, from the original 16mm negatives. The monaural audio track was remastered without compression. A Blu-ray edition in three disks was then produced from these new masters, including three additional films by Lanzmann.
Bomba breaks down while describing how a barber friend of his came across his wife and sister while cutting hair in an anteroom of the gas chamber. This section includes Henryk Gawkowski , who drove transport trains while intoxicated with vodka.
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Gawkowski's photograph appears on the poster used for the film's marketing campaign. He breaks down as he recalls the prisoners starting to sing while being forced into the gas chamber. Accounts include some from local villagers, who witnessed trains heading daily to the camp and returning empty; they quickly guessed the fate of those on board. Lanzmann also interviews bystanders. He asks whether they knew what was going on in the death camps. Their answers reveal that they did, but they justified their inaction by the fear of death. Walter Stier, a former Nazi bureaucrat, describes the workings of the railways.
Stier insists he was too busy managing railroad traffic to notice his trains were transporting Jews to their deaths. The Warsaw ghetto is described by Jan Karski , a member of the Polish Underground who worked for the Polish government-in-exile , and Franz Grassler , a Nazi administrator in Warsaw who liaised with Jewish leaders. A Christian, Karski sneaked into the Warsaw ghetto and travelled using false documents to England to try to convince the Allied governments to intervene more strongly on behalf of the Jews.
Roosvelt about how to stop the genocide, without any success. The reason why that interview was not included in Shoah is still unknown. Memories from Jewish survivors of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising conclude the documentary. Lanzmann also interviews Holocaust historian Raul Hilberg , who discusses the significance of Nazi propaganda against the European Jews and the Nazi development of the Final Solution and a detailed analysis of railroad documents showing the transport routes to the death camps.
The complete text of the film was published in Suchomel talks in detail about the camp's gas chambers and the disposal of bodies. He states that he did not know about the extermination at Treblinka until he arrived there. On his first day he says he vomited and cried after encountering trenches full of corpses, 6—7 m deep, with the earth around them moving in waves because of the gases. The smell of the bodies carried for kilometres depending on the wind, he said, but local people were scared to act in case they were sent to the work camp, Treblinka 1. He explained that from arrival at Treblinka to death in the gas chambers took 2—3 hours for a trainload of people.
Suchomel told Lanzmann that he would ask the hairdressers to slow down so that the women would not have to wait so long outside. Compared to the size and complexity of Auschwitz , Suchomel calls Treblinka "primitive. But a well-functioning assembly line of death. The publicity poster for the film features Henryk Gawkowski, a Polish train worker from Malkinia , who, in — when he was 20—21 years old,  worked on the trains to Treblinka as an "assistant machinist with the right to drive the locomotive".
Lanzmann hired a steam locomotive similar to the one Gawkowski worked on, and shows the tracks and a sign for Treblinka. Gawkowski told Lanzmann that every train had a Polish driver and assistant, accompanied by German officers. He would have killed Hitler himself had he been able to, he told Lanzmann. A train carrying Jews was called a Sonderzug special train ; the "cargo" was given false papers to disguise that humans beings were being hauled.
Gawkowski drove trains to the Treblinka train station and from the station into the camp itself. The gesture would cause chaos in those convoys, he said; passengers would try to jump out or throw their children out. I have sympathy for him because he carries a truly open wound that does not heal.
Lanzmann was commissioned by Israeli officials to make what they thought would be a two-hour film, delivered in 18 months, about the Holocaust from "the viewpoint of the Jews".
Visitor Information : Museum of Jewish Heritage — A Living Memorial to the Holocaust
Shoah took eleven years to make. The film was unusual in that it did not include any historical footage, relying instead on interviewing witnesses and visiting the crime scenes. Some German interviewees were reluctant to talk and refused to be filmed, so Lanzmann used a hidden camera , producing a grainy, black-and-white appearance.
During one interview, the covert recording was discovered and Lanzmann was physically attacked. He was hospitalized for a month and charged by the authorities with "unauthorized use of the German airwaves".