Special Issue "Genealogy The Holocaust in Contemporary Popular Culture"

A special issue of Genealogy (ISSN 2313-5778).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (1 September 2019).

Special Issue Editor

Dr. Christine Berberich
Website
Guest Editor
School of Area Studies, History, Politics and Literature, University of Portsmouth, Milldam Building, Burnaby Road, Portsmouth PO1 3AS
Interests: literary and cultural representations of English national identity, contemporary German writing on the Holocaust

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Almost 80 years on from the liberation of the Nazi concentration camps, the Holocaust has become part of a common cultural narrative: history books set out the facts of the Shoah; a new genre has developed in literature – starting with survivor accounts and slowly moving into Holocaust fiction; there is Holocaust film; there are art works creatively engaging with the Holocaust. Added to that is the academic debate, where, over decades, critics have argued and set out just how the Holocaust should be commemorated. In more recent years, however, new forms of Holocaust representation have appeared that might seem irreverent to some, or trailblazing to others: graphic novels on the Holocaust, for instance; Holocaust comedies; representations of the Sonderkommando in Computer Games; images of Auschwitz in Marvel films; allegedly ‘lower’ literary genres, for instance crime writing, dealing with the crimes of the Nazi past. These new forms of representation and, ultimately, commemoration, openly engage with the debate of Holocaust piety versus Holocaust impiety, as set out by critics such as Gillian Rose and Matthew Boswell.

Please consider contributing to this special issue on ‘The Holocaust in Contemporary Popular Fiction’. Much has been written, in recent years, on new and different trends in Holocaust representation and commemoration. This special issue would like to closely examine reprsentations of the Holocaust and the Nazi pasts in contemporary POPULAR culture – in film, popular literature, graphic novels, computer games etc. It wants to address the various ethics of representation as Holocaust representation is slowly changing; it wants to discuss opinions both for and against overtly popular forms of Holocaust commemoration: are there ethical thresholds that have but shouldn’t be crossed? What is acceptable / unacceptable in Holocaust commemoration?

With its focus solely on POPULAR cultural production, this Special Issue aims to contribute to ongoing debates about what is and what shouldn’t be permissible in Holocaust representation.

Please submit a 200–300 word abstract by the end of Feb 2019 to the special issue editor Christine Berberich at [email protected] A notification of acceptance will be sent on March 22, and full manuscripts are due by 1 September 2019.

Dr. Christine Berberich
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a double-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Genealogy is an international peer-reviewed open access quarterly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1000 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Holocaust Commemoration
  • Popular Culture
  • Shoah Business

Published Papers (12 papers)

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Research

Open AccessArticle
Specters of the Past: Transgenerational Memory in Miriam Katin’s Graphic Memoirs We Are On Our Own and Letting It Go
Genealogy 2020, 4(2), 53; https://doi.org/10.3390/genealogy4020053 - 23 Apr 2020
Abstract
This paper thematizes the topic of the eyewitness report based on Miriam Katin’s transgenerational point of view on the Holocaust, which has a cathartic impact on the author through self-reflexivity. In We Are On Our Own, Miriam Katin draws on her own [...] Read more.
This paper thematizes the topic of the eyewitness report based on Miriam Katin’s transgenerational point of view on the Holocaust, which has a cathartic impact on the author through self-reflexivity. In We Are On Our Own, Miriam Katin draws on her own cultural and transgenerational memory, which is heavily influenced by her mother. The author unveils her parents’ story and elaborates on how she, as the child of Holocaust survivors, has dealt with the atrocities of the Holocaust throughout her life. In her second memoir, Letting It Go, Katin expands this point of view and not only addresses the Holocaust from the view of the second generation, but adds another layer to dealing with the Nazi past, namely the point of view of the third generation. Accordingly, it is through Katin’s son, Ilan, that Miriam learns not to encounter Berlin stereotypically and embittered anymore. Modern day Berlin welcomes Katin and her family with open arms and is not comparable with the former capital of National Socialism anymore. Therefore, both graphic memoirs can be regarded as a process of coming to terms with the trauma of the Holocaust through the technique of self-reflexivity. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Genealogy The Holocaust in Contemporary Popular Culture)
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Open AccessArticle
Children’s Literature and the Holocaust
Genealogy 2020, 4(1), 24; https://doi.org/10.3390/genealogy4010024 - 06 Mar 2020
Abstract
The aim of my paper is to examine children’s literature written in Italy and centred on the Holocaust. It is quite common for people to deem the subject matter inappropriate for young audiences, whilst it is also considered disrespectful to write inventive literature [...] Read more.
The aim of my paper is to examine children’s literature written in Italy and centred on the Holocaust. It is quite common for people to deem the subject matter inappropriate for young audiences, whilst it is also considered disrespectful to write inventive literature for children about the death camps. Nevertheless, it seems necessary to inform children about such a major historical event. Moreover, the stories written on this subject aim to introduce children to themes like prejudice, discrimination and racism. My research focuses on the recurrent patterns that occur frequently in these books. In these books, the focus lies on the victims rather than the perpetrators. They deal with the story of a Jewish family and frequently feature a child as the protagonist. These books will undoubtedly provoke questions by young readers, but they are most likely best read with an adult who can answer any questions appropriately and deepen the historical frame. These narratives are important because educators have a responsibility to teach others and read about the Holocaust. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Genealogy The Holocaust in Contemporary Popular Culture)
Open AccessArticle
Continuing Trends in Popular Holocaust Fiction: Heather Morris and the Corporealization of Women’s Suffering
Genealogy 2020, 4(1), 6; https://doi.org/10.3390/genealogy4010006 - 31 Dec 2019
Abstract
This article explores the problematic representation of female sufferers in works of fiction relating to the Holocaust. Specifically, I contend that modern fiction fails to engage with the moral and emotional complexity of wartime sexual compromise and instead replaces a cognitive understanding of [...] Read more.
This article explores the problematic representation of female sufferers in works of fiction relating to the Holocaust. Specifically, I contend that modern fiction fails to engage with the moral and emotional complexity of wartime sexual compromise and instead replaces a cognitive understanding of history with a bodily connection to women’s wartime pain. I do so by focusing on Heather Morris’s two Holocaust-themed texts: The Tattooist of Auschwitz (2018) and Cilka’s Journey (2019). Morris, the article contends, cannot connect to the psychological or moral reality of Cilka’s wartime abuse and so instead focuses on the corporealization of her suffering. Having established the existence of the trend in Morris’s fiction, the article then also addresses Morris’s associated need to morally contextualise Cilka’s actions. In order to maintain her connection with Cilka’s body, I assert, Morris must frame Cilka’s actions using the incompatible morality of the post-war present day. To provide the character with depth would block Morris’s engagement with Cilka’s body as a post-memorial nonwitness. This is profoundly problematic as, rather than informing our understanding of the Holocaust past, Morris merely perpetuates a view of the event that is objectifying, de-humanising and frequently misogynistic. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Genealogy The Holocaust in Contemporary Popular Culture)
Open AccessArticle
Detecting the Past: Detective Novels, the Nazi Past, and Holocaust Impiety
Genealogy 2019, 3(4), 70; https://doi.org/10.3390/genealogy3040070 - 07 Dec 2019
Abstract
Crime writing is not often associated with Holocaust representations, yet an emergent trend, especially in German literature, combines a general, popular interest in crime and detective fiction with historical writing about the Holocaust, or critically engages with the events of the Shoah. Particularly [...] Read more.
Crime writing is not often associated with Holocaust representations, yet an emergent trend, especially in German literature, combines a general, popular interest in crime and detective fiction with historical writing about the Holocaust, or critically engages with the events of the Shoah. Particularly worthy of critical investigation are Bernhard Schlink’s series of detective novels focusing on private investigator Gerhard Selb, a man with a Nazi background now investigating other people’s Nazi pasts, and Ferdinand von Schirach’s The Collini Case (2011) which engages with the often inadequate response of the post-war justice system in Germany to Nazi crimes. In these novels, the detective turns historian in order to solve historic cases. Importantly, readers also follow in the detectives’ footsteps, piecing together a slowly emerging historical jigsaw in ways that compel them to question historical knowledge, history writing, processes of institutionalised commemoration and memory formation, all of which are key issues in Holocaust Studies. The aims of this paper are two-fold. Firstly, I will argue that the significance of this kind of fiction has been insufficiently recognised by critics, perhaps in part because of its connotations as popular fiction. Secondly, I will contend that these texts can be fruitfully analysed by situating them in relation to recent debates about pious and impious Holocaust writing as discussed by Gillian Rose and Matthew Boswell. As a result, these texts act as exemplars of Rose’s contention that impious Holocaust literature succeeds by using new techniques in order to shatter the emotional detachment that has resulted from the use of clichés and familiar tropes in traditional pious accounts; and by placing detectives and readers in a position of moral ambivalence that complicates their understanding of the past on the one hand, and their own moral position on the other. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Genealogy The Holocaust in Contemporary Popular Culture)
Open AccessArticle
Memorialising the (Un)Dead Jewish Other in Poland: Spectrality, Embodiment and Polish Holocaust Horror in Władysław Pasikowski’s Aftermath (2012)
Genealogy 2019, 3(4), 65; https://doi.org/10.3390/genealogy3040065 - 29 Nov 2019
Abstract
This article analyses the function and symbolic currency of Poland’s recent literary and artistic motif of the returning Jew, which brings the nation’s Jewish Holocaust victims back to their homes as ghosts, spectres and reanimated corpses. It explores the ability of this trope—the [...] Read more.
This article analyses the function and symbolic currency of Poland’s recent literary and artistic motif of the returning Jew, which brings the nation’s Jewish Holocaust victims back to their homes as ghosts, spectres and reanimated corpses. It explores the ability of this trope—the defining feature of what I call ‘Polish Holocaust horror’—to cultivate the memory of complicitous and collaborative Polish behaviour during the Holocaust years, and to promote renewed Polish-Jewish relations based upon a working-through of this difficult history. In the article I explore Władysław Pasikowski’s 2012 film Aftermath as a self-reflexive product of this experimental genre, which has been considered ethically ambiguous for its necropolitical treatment of Jews and politically controversial for its depiction of Poles as perpetrators. My analysis examines haunting as central to these popular cultural constructions of Holocaust memory—a device that has been used within the genre to mourn but also expel guilt for the previously forgotten or supressed dispossession and murder of Jews by some of their Polish neighbours. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Genealogy The Holocaust in Contemporary Popular Culture)
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Open AccessArticle
“Millions of Jews Died in That War… It Was a Bad Time”: The Holocaust in Adventures in Odyssey’s Escape to the Hiding Place
Genealogy 2019, 3(4), 63; https://doi.org/10.3390/genealogy3040063 - 15 Nov 2019
Abstract
In 2012, the Christian evangelical organization Focus on the Family published Escape to the Hiding Place, the ninth book in Adventures in Odyssey’s Imagination Station book series. This short children’s book is a creative reimagining of Corrie ten Boom’s Holocaust memoir The [...] Read more.
In 2012, the Christian evangelical organization Focus on the Family published Escape to the Hiding Place, the ninth book in Adventures in Odyssey’s Imagination Station book series. This short children’s book is a creative reimagining of Corrie ten Boom’s Holocaust memoir The Hiding Place (1971). Corrie was a Christian who lived in Haarlem during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands. Corrie and her family helped hide Jews and non-Jews from arrest and deportation at the hands of the Nazis and their collaborators. Corrie’s story has played a significant role in the evangelical Christian encounter with the Holocaust. Like every Imagination Station story, Escape to the Hiding Place features two cousins, Patrick and Beth, from the fictional town of Odyssey. They travel back in time to help Jews escape the Nazis, all so they can learn a lesson about their ability to aid others in need. A harrowing adventure ensues. This paper does not criticize the valuable rescue work undertaken by Christians during the Holocaust, nor does it criticize the contemporary evangelical desire to draw meaning from Christian rescue work. Rather, the fictional narrative under consideration skews toward an overly simplistic representation of the Christian response to the murder of Jews during World War Two, contains a flat reading of Dutch society during the war, and fails to address antisemitism or racism. This paper situates Escape to the Hiding Place within a wider evangelical popular culture that has struggled with the history of the Holocaust apart from redemptive Christian biographies. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Genealogy The Holocaust in Contemporary Popular Culture)
Open AccessArticle
‘Feel the Knife Pierce You Intensely’: Slayer’s ‘Angel of Death’—Holocaust Representation or Metal Affects?
Genealogy 2019, 3(4), 61; https://doi.org/10.3390/genealogy3040061 - 14 Nov 2019
Abstract
This article tackles a well-known but little-studied phenomenon: the importance of Holocaust themes to heavy metal. The fascination of metal bands with evil and death has until recently been met outside the scene with such reactions as moral panic, disgust or indifference. In [...] Read more.
This article tackles a well-known but little-studied phenomenon: the importance of Holocaust themes to heavy metal. The fascination of metal bands with evil and death has until recently been met outside the scene with such reactions as moral panic, disgust or indifference. In the last ten years, however, scholars in an emerging discourse of Metal Studies have attempted to engage more critically with the social and musical dimensions of metal, in order to contextualise and understand its lyrics and imagery. Although a number of writers have touched upon the recurrence of Holocaust imagery, no one has dealt at any length with extreme metal as a form of Holocaust memory. My article focuses on what might be called the founding text of extreme metal, Slayer’s ‘Angel of Death’, which lived up to the sub-genre’s name by pushing both its musical form and its lyrical content beyond previously maintained limits and taboos. It considers the song’s mobilisation of affective intensities as involving problematic politics, but also a challenge to conceptions of Holocaust representation. I consider how affects are evoked by ‘Angel of Death’ through offering readings of the song itself as well as of ways that its reception have been recorded on social media, in concert videos, and reaction videos uploaded to YouTube. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Genealogy The Holocaust in Contemporary Popular Culture)
Open AccessArticle
Fictional Crimes/Historical Crimes: Genre and Character in Philip Kerr’s Berlin Noir Trilogy
Genealogy 2019, 3(4), 60; https://doi.org/10.3390/genealogy3040060 - 14 Nov 2019
Abstract
This paper will explore Philip Kerr’s Berlin Noir trilogy, composed of March Violets (1989), The Pale Criminal (1990), and A German Requiem (1991), discussing the overlap and blurring of generic boundaries in these novels and the ability of this form to reckon with [...] Read more.
This paper will explore Philip Kerr’s Berlin Noir trilogy, composed of March Violets (1989), The Pale Criminal (1990), and A German Requiem (1991), discussing the overlap and blurring of generic boundaries in these novels and the ability of this form to reckon with the Holocaust. These detective stories are not directly about the Holocaust, and although the crimes investigated by the mordant Bernie Gunther are fictional, they are interweaved with the greater crimes committed daily by the Nazi Party. The novels are brutally realistic, violent, bleak, and harsh, in a narrative style highly appropriate for crime novels set in Nazi Germany. Indeed, with our knowledge of the enormity of the Nazi crimes, the violence in the novels seems not gratuitous but reflective of the era. Bernie Gunther himself, who is both hard-boiled protagonist and narrator, is a deeply flawed human, even an anti-hero, but in Berlin, which is “alive” as a character in these novels, his insights, cloaked in irony and sarcasm, highlight the struggle to resist, even passively, even just inside one’s own mind, the current of Nazism. Although many representations of the Holocaust in popular fiction strive towards the “feel good” story within the story, Kerr’s morally and generically ambiguous novels never give in to this urge, and the solution of the crime is never redemptive. The darkness of these novels, paired with the popularity of crime fiction, make for a significant vehicle for representing the milieu in which the Holocaust was able to occur. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Genealogy The Holocaust in Contemporary Popular Culture)
Open AccessArticle
‘Humorous Is the Only Truthful Way to Tell a Sad Story’: Jonathan Safran Foer and Third Generation Holocaust Representation
Genealogy 2019, 3(4), 55; https://doi.org/10.3390/genealogy3040055 - 30 Oct 2019
Abstract
Jonathan Safran Foer’s representation of the Holocaust in his first novel, Everything is Illuminated, has been the subject of much controversy and critical debate. Several critics and Holocaust survivors have objected to the work for the lack of historical accuracy in its [...] Read more.
Jonathan Safran Foer’s representation of the Holocaust in his first novel, Everything is Illuminated, has been the subject of much controversy and critical debate. Several critics and Holocaust survivors have objected to the work for the lack of historical accuracy in its mythological narrative and the irreverence of its humour. However, such responses fail to take into account its specific form of generational representation: The Holocaust of Everything is Illuminated is always perceived through a third-generation lens, and its provocative elements instead highlight aspects of the experiences of the grandchildren of survivors. With this in mind, this paper examines Foer’s approach to the Holocaust in Everything is Illuminated and Liev Schreiber’s film adaptation (2005), making specific reference to the challenges faced by the third generation. Drawing upon theories of the transgenerational transmission of trauma and postmemory, it will explore the roles of creativity and humour in resilience, in addition to the reconstruction of a historical narrative under threat of erasure. Ultimately, by offsetting the tendencies to reduce the complexity of the Holocaust into unequivocal moralities (as exhibited in the film adaptation) with the idiosyncrasies of the third-generation experience, an alternative contextual perspective on the Holocaust is propounded, containing its own discrete set of ethical questions and concerns. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Genealogy The Holocaust in Contemporary Popular Culture)
Open AccessArticle
Holocaust Impiety in 21st Century Graphic Novels: Younger Generations ‘No Longer Obliged to Perpetuate Sorrow’
Genealogy 2019, 3(4), 53; https://doi.org/10.3390/genealogy3040053 - 07 Oct 2019
Abstract
At a time where so few survivors remain alive and the extermination of European Jews is leaving the field of direct human experience, the evolving collective memory of the event is reflected in popular culture. There has recently been a rise in the [...] Read more.
At a time where so few survivors remain alive and the extermination of European Jews is leaving the field of direct human experience, the evolving collective memory of the event is reflected in popular culture. There has recently been a rise in the number of graphic novels written on the subject of the Shoah, particularly in France, Germany, and North America. These works, written by second or even third-generation survivors nearly 80 years after the genocide, approach the event from perspectives that not only further Art Spiegelman’s path in that they challenge the so-called limits of Holocaust representations, but also open up new discussions on transgenerational trauma. Focusing on two graphic novels, Michel Kichka’s Deuxième génération: Ce que je n’ai pas dit à mon père (2012) and Jérémie Dres’ Nous n’irons pas à Auschwitz (2011), my aim here is to examine the new aspects of trauma that these texts present, more specifically the reluctance to deal with one’s past, the struggle to bear the weight of the ‘sacred’ memory of Auschwitz, and in some cases the lack of interest of the youth in the Shoah. Both these autobiographical texts narrate the story of men who end up making the conscious decision never to go to Auschwitz after finding out about their ancestors’ history, asserting their desire to not solely be defined by their family tragedy. These issues, which fit in with what Matthew Boswell and Joost Krijnen define as ‘Holocaust impiety’, mark a break with graphic novels from the 1970s and 1980s which, as Gillian Rose writes, ‘mystified’ the event as ‘something we dare not understand’. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Genealogy The Holocaust in Contemporary Popular Culture)
Open AccessArticle
Sexualization of Female Perpetration in Fictional Holocaust Films: A Case Study of The Reader (2008)
Genealogy 2019, 3(4), 52; https://doi.org/10.3390/genealogy3040052 - 28 Sep 2019
Abstract
The publication of Bernhard Schlink’s novel The Reader (1995) sparked conversation and controversy about sexuality, female perpetrators and the complexity of guilt regarding the Holocaust. The screen adaptation of the book (Daldry 2008) amplified these discussions on an international scale. Fictional Holocaust films [...] Read more.
The publication of Bernhard Schlink’s novel The Reader (1995) sparked conversation and controversy about sexuality, female perpetrators and the complexity of guilt regarding the Holocaust. The screen adaptation of the book (Daldry 2008) amplified these discussions on an international scale. Fictional Holocaust films have a history of being met with skepticism or even reject on the one hand and great acclaim on the other hand. As this paper will outline, the focus has often been on male perpetrators and female victims. The portrayal of female perpetration reveals dichotomous stereotypes, often neglecting the complexity of the subject matter. This paper focuses on the ways in which sexualization is used specifically to portray female perpetrators in The Reader, as a fictional Holocaust film. An assessment of Hanna’s relationship to Michael and her autonomous sexuality and her later inferior, victimized portrayal as an ambiguous perpetrator is the focus of my paper. Hanna’s sexuality is structurally separated from her role as a perpetrator. Hanna’s perpetration is, through the dichotomous motif of sexuality throughout the film, characterized by a feminization. However, this feminization entails a relativization of Hanna’s culpability, revealing a pejorative of her depiction as a perpetrator. Consequently, I argue that Hanna’s sexualized female body is constructed as a central part of the revelation of her perpetration. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Genealogy The Holocaust in Contemporary Popular Culture)
Open AccessArticle
Everybody’s Holocaust? Tova Reich’s Satirical Approach to Shoah Business and the Cult of Victimhood
Genealogy 2019, 3(4), 51; https://doi.org/10.3390/genealogy3040051 - 27 Sep 2019
Abstract
This paper sets out to demonstrate the changes that post-Holocaust fiction has been undergoing since around the turn of the new millennium. It analyzes the highly innovative and often provocative approaches to the Holocaust and its memory found in Tova Reich’s novel My [...] Read more.
This paper sets out to demonstrate the changes that post-Holocaust fiction has been undergoing since around the turn of the new millennium. It analyzes the highly innovative and often provocative approaches to the Holocaust and its memory found in Tova Reich’s novel My Holocaust—a scathing satire on the personal and institutional exploitation of Holocaust commemoration, manifested in the commodification of the historical trauma in what has been termed “Shoah business”. The novel can be seen as a reaction to the increasing appropriation of the Holocaust by popular culture. This paper focuses on Reich’s critical response to the cult of victimhood and the unhealthy competition for Holocaust primacy, corresponding with the growth of a “victim culture”. It also explores other thematic aspects of the author’s satire—the abuse of the term “Holocaust” for personal, political and ideological purposes; attempts to capitalize on the suffering of millions of victims; the trivialization of this tragedy; conflicts between particularists and universalists in their attitude to the Shoah; and criticism of Holocaust-centered Judaism. The purpose of this paper is to show how Tova Reich has enriched post-Holocaust fiction by presenting a comic treatment of false victimary discourse, embodied by a fraudulent survivor and a whole gallery of inauthentic characters. This paper highlights the novel’s originality, which enables it to step outside the frame of traditional Holocaust fiction. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Genealogy The Holocaust in Contemporary Popular Culture)
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