Holocaust Remembrance Conference in Berlin: Subtle Self-Deception

There isn’t much that can cause the intellectual republic to be as outraged as the Holocaust’s singularity, not even in the 1920s. There are still far too many valid grounds for so, especially at a time when not only anti-Semitic crimes are rising but also the last living witnesses are passing away. As a result, the current “historian dispute 2.0” hasn’t been fought out for a while: the thesis is being contested from the left, specifically by proponents of postcolonial studies, who see it primarily as a continuation of the colonial crimes of the West, as opposed to the right, as it was in the first historian dispute of the 1980s.

The fronts are not merely toughened, though. The final impression was that the disputants no longer even understood one another since their approaches and viewpoints were so fundamentally dissimilar.

In this case, it seemed overdue to take a step back and call a conference to discuss how the debate ought to be conducted in the future. But if no one steps forward, it doesn’t really matter. Fortunately, the Frankfurt S. Fischer-Verlag accomplished it. Some of the most well-known thinkers in the discussion gathered on Thursday to discuss this very topic at Berlin’s Magnus House on Kupfergraben.

The discussion began with a question from moderator Shelly Kupferberg about what people should make of the Bundestag’s decision to recognize the homosexual victims of National Socialism on Friday’s Holocaust Remembrance Day for the first time. Is the? What about the Jewish population, which made up the vast majority of the victims?

Meron Mendel claimed that there is too much confusion between social commemoration culture and formal commemoration strategy.

Meron Mendel, professor of social work and head of the Anne Frank educational center in Frankfurt, refused to be provoked in line with the mood of the day and instead set the tone by highlighting the distinction between social culture of remembrance and official politics of remembrance. Both are included in the discussion far too frequently, which leads to victim competitiveness and a ridiculous sharpness that makes it difficult to compare truly diametrically opposed points of view, as was attempted in the recently published book “Frenemies,” which he co-edited. Too many people were afraid of hurting themselves by merely allowing their opinions to be shared in the incorrect circles. “The German conversation culture is unhealthy,” he concluded.

That was challenged by historian Michael Wildt, who was in attendance: “I don’t believe it’s a bad thing that the argument is heating up.” But like Mendel, he recognized that if the state was not sufficiently excluded from the discussion, it would be problematic. On this subject, where the official remembrance policy has an impact on the distribution of research money, for example, the only question was how exactly this should operate. Stefanie Schüler-Springorum, the director of the Center for Research on Antisemitism, also revealed an unsettling effect of the circumstance: Currently, really contentious discussions regarding the controversy could only be place in private at her home.

How could this happen? Mendel was correct to note that the German discourse on memory is characterized by a subtle but significant change in interpretation. a subtle form of self-deception. The act of remembering itself is no longer the main focus; rather, it is the overly confident belief in one’s own processing abilities. But is it the reason “the whole of German society has to sit on the couch,” as he urged with a wink?

If the period after 1945 was eventually given serious consideration, Stefanie Schüler-Springorum suggested, it might suffice for the time being. Then, who were the messengers of the new order? Who was still not included? All of this, in Schüler-opinion, Springorum’s has contributed far too little to the culture of memory thus far. Shelly Kupferberg cited commonplace accounts of what it was like for German Jews to discover their furniture in the apartments of their former neighbors after the war and to only be able to retrieve it under police protection, if they were given it. Something like this is a given to remember in Jewish German families. Today, it’s common for non-Jewish German audiences to hear such things for the first time.

There are still many unresolved issues on the side of the offenders’ ancestors.

It should come as no surprise that recalling wrongs a family has endured is simpler than remembering wrongs done by one’s ancestors. This makes it even more of a work that needs to be focused on more intently, as was evident that day. Therefore, even if the speech may not be sick, it does get sick. Simply put, there is still a lot to be resolved on the side of the offenders’ ancestors.

The remainder is handled by the zeitgeist. The issue that there now appears to be a very fundamental discourse-tactical consensus that everyone must show themselves as victims in order to be heard was brought up by the racism researcher Manuela Bojadijev. This is the worst scenario imaginable for the urgent need to amplify the perpetrator’s recall.

Unfortunately, the discussion that Tobias Ebbrecht-Hartmann, Karen Jungblut, and Jens-Christian Wagner had afterwards left us a little less informed than we had intended. Wagner oversees the Buchenwald Memorial; Ebbrecht-Hartmann is a researcher at the Jerusalem Hebrew University; and Jungblut is the director of the Shoa Foundation in Germany. All three have the specific profession of organizing remembering. They are not overly concerned about the mortality of living witnesses. Instead, the quiet and space required for effective memory training are simply too seldom. Wagner contends that a single trip of Buchenwald cannot adequately prepare students for the institution. Workshops that run for a few hours or days are actually beneficial. The impact of the seminars will diminish fast if the visit to the school is not well planned and followed up on.

The sternness with which Tel Aviv sociologist Natan Sznaider insisted at the conclusion not to pretend more reconciliation than was possible in light of the anti-Semitism already present suddenly seemed much less provocative than one would like: “The Jews are foreign, that it’s the unknown world next door.” That may have seemed depressingly harsh, but in keeping with the conference’s theme, it just alluded to the potential reality: For the vast majority of Germans who are not Jewish, only fundamental aspects of their own family history may be even stranger than living among German-Jews.

By Editor

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