The role of archives in remembering the Holocaust / Marelene Ruth Warshawski
Includes bibliographical references (p. 229-263)
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Electronic version from ProQuest
This research focuses on institutions established to study and preserve the memory of the Holocaust. The dissertation seeks to determine how these institutions perceive their function to broaden the public's understanding of this event. It interprets the processes involved in transforming and transmitting historical and social memory over time. Studying the creation of Holocaust centers combines the characteristics of collective memory and provides information on the circumstances under which such centers were established. This work surveys 112 centers located in 15 countries. It also presents the results of five case studies of selected institutions which promote awareness of the Holocaust. The years that these centers were established correspond to important events in Jewish history. The centers are used mostly by educators, the media, Holocaust survivors, and the general public. They are supported mostly through membership and contributions. Initially, these institutions were established to document and verify the events of the Holocaust. These aims still dictate the functions of these centers. The centers contribute significantly to the public's understanding of the Holocaust. Incorporating the Holocaust into a nation's social and collective memory is an important function of these centers. Through commemorative events and memorial activities, these organizations help incorporate Holocaust remembrance into national agendas. These objectives represent an extension of the initial reasons for establishing these archives; verification and documentation are followed by educating the public, memorializing the victims, and ultimately securing a place in social and historical memory. In light of the growing volume of Holocaust deniers challenging the historical authenticity of this event, these centers provide the evidence required to address these issues and correct errors of omission and malice in documenting and preserving its memory. In short, the study presents findings based on the examination of a specific event and attempts to relate its findings to general areas of interest to sociological theory--the social context of the creation of organizations devoted to the preservation of memory: Why are they created, by whom, when, with what consequences? At every point our concern was to relate the particular to the general.
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