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Bringing the Dark to Light: Holocaust Memory in Post-Communist Europe

Dr Joanna Beata Michlic

Fri 10 Jan 2014

Time: 1.00pm - 2.00pm

In 1945, only a few grasped the extent of the destruction of East European Jews and their civilization and the implication of this loss for the region. Today, the Holocaust has become the European paradigm of memorial sites and the universal icon of evil. Most recently some have claimed the Holocaust an international paradigm of human rights. These developments have evolved in different directions, creating greater understanding of the impact of the Holocaust on the one hand, and on the other making poor analogies and producing competing narratives of martyrdom. In Europe, in spite of the establishment of the International Day of Holocaust Remembrance (27 January), the memory of the Holocaust does not cease to cause tensions between the West and the postcommunist countries. This presentation discusses the major stages of the process of restoration of memory of the Holocaust in postcommunist Europe. By studying these dimensions carefully, we can learn about the reconceptualization of Jews and the Holocaust, and the limits of the recognition and integration of the “dark past” by broader multigenerational sections of postcommunist societies.

Joanna Beata Michlic is a social and cultural historian, and founder and Director of HBI (Hadassah-Brandeis Institute) Project on Families, Children, and the Holocaust at Brandeis University. In September 2013, she was appointed a lecturer in Contemporary History at the Faculty of the Department of Historical Studies at Bristol University, UK. Her major publications include Neighbors Respond: The Controversy about Jedwabne (2004; co-edited with Antony Polonsky) and Poland's Threatening Other: The Image of the Jew from 1880 to the Present and Bringing the Dark to Light: The Reception of the Holocaust in Postcommunist Europe, co-edited with John-Paul Himka (Lincoln, NUP, July 2013). She is also the editor of the forthcoming Jewish Families in Europe, 1939-Present: History, Representation, and Memory, (University Press of New England/Brandeis University Press, 2014). Her two current research topics are the history of rescuers of Jews and East European Jewish childhood, 1945-1950. She is a recipient of many academic awards and fellowships, most recently the Fulbright Senior Scholar Award, Haifa University, Spring Semester 2013/2014.

Admission: Free, but booking is essential as space is limited.

Location: The Wiener Library, 29 Russell Square, London - click for map

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