Between Grief and Grievance: Memories of Jews in France and the Klaus Barbie Trial
AbstractWorking between the Amos Gitai film One Day You’ll Understand (2008) and the 1987 Klaus Barbie trial against which it is set, the article explores how the trial marked a decisive turning point in France’s relationship to its wartime past. Of Barbie’s hundreds of crimes, including murder, torture, rape, and deportation, only those of the gravest nature, 41 separate counts of crimes against humanity, were pursued in the French court in Lyon. Not only did the trial raise crucial juridical questions involving the status of victims and the definition of crimes against humanity but, extending into the private sphere, it became the occasion for citizens to address heretofore silenced aspects of their own family histories and conduct trials of a more personal nature. Whereas the law in general seeks to contain historical trauma and to translate it into legal-conscious terminology, it is often the trauma that takes over, transforming the trial into “another scene” (Freud) in which an unmastered past is unwittingly repeated and unconsciously acted out. Such failures of translation, far from being simply legal shortcomings, open a space between grief and grievance, one through which it is possible to explore both how family secrets are disowned from one generation to the next, and how deeply flawed legal proceedings such as the Barbie trial may “release accumulated social toxins” (Kaplan) and thereby expose unaddressed dimensions of French postwar (and -colonial) history. View Full-Text
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Levine, M.G. Between Grief and Grievance: Memories of Jews in France and the Klaus Barbie Trial. Humanities 2017, 6, 93.
Levine MG. Between Grief and Grievance: Memories of Jews in France and the Klaus Barbie Trial. Humanities. 2017; 6(4):93.Chicago/Turabian Style
Levine, Michael G. 2017. "Between Grief and Grievance: Memories of Jews in France and the Klaus Barbie Trial." Humanities 6, no. 4: 93.
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