There is no more gruesome and tragic record in the history of the twentieth century than the photographs taken at the liberation of the concentration camps in Germany after World War II. She shows how the photographs have become the basis of our memory of the Holocaust and how they have affected our presentations and perceptions of contemporary Brennan rated it liked it Jul 27, Here we have a completely fresh look at the emergence of photography as a major component of journalistic reporting in the course of the liberation of the camps by the Western Allies. Citing articles via Google Scholar. The thesis of the book was how the Holocaust coverage in image and text has actually caused the West to witness and forget future atrocities, as though images leave us feeling morally excused to move on, since we faithfully bore witness by looking. Related articles in Google Scholar.

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Chapter One Collective Memories, Images, and the Atrocity of War In writings published posthumously after world War II, the cultural critic Walter Benjamin contended that images of public events merit attention because they offer a compressed moral guide for the future. Through U. But they have provided only a thin veneer of knowledge about the camps and the atrocities that took place inside. How were those first images of the camps produced and presented?

By whom and under which circumstances? How were they received and to what effect? And most importantly, when, why, how, and to what purposes were they co-opted into memory? In what ways have they persisted as vehicles of collective memory, both about the Holocaust and about the ravages of war? Questions like these are worth answering because the images of the concentration camps—called the World War II "atrocity photos" by postwar critics—have become a lasting iconic representation of war atrocity and human evil.

But the questions are difficult to answer because they underscore a broader lack in our scholarship on images and image making. We still do not know enough about how images help record public events, about whether and in which ways images function as better vehicles of proof than words, and about which vehicle—word or image—takes precedence in situations of conflict between what the words tell us and the pictures show us.

Moreover, as the technologies for photographic manipulation have changed and public skepticism about photos has grown, the questions themselves have changed too. We know even less about how images function as vehicles of collective memory.

Beyond recognizing that they conveniently freeze scenes in our minds and serve as building blocks to remembering, we do not yet fully understand how images help us remember, particularly in circumstances we did not experience personally. In an age where the media have become ever-present agents of collective remembering, this is no small problem. And it threatens to loom larger as image-making technologies become more sophisticated and diverse over the coming century.

This book addresses the mechanics of visual memory and historical record at their broadest level. Like a familiar sequence of musical notes that seems to appear from nowhere, images creatively pop up in ways that challenge what we think we know about the past and how we think we know it. It is with this challenge that Remembering to Forget is concerned.

The Shape of Collective Remembering When cultural critic Susan Sontag recalled seeing the atrocity photos as a young girl, she claimed that experience had divided her life into before and after periods.

Some limit had been reached, and not only that of horror; I felt irrevocably grieved, wounded, but a part of my feelings started to tighten; something went dead; something is still crying. The book thereby views collective memory as a tool "not of retrieval but of reconfiguration [that] colonizes the past by obliging it to conform to present configurations. When viewed as a collective activity, memory takes on characteristics that distinguish it from individual remembering.

It opens up the terrain that is remembered and turns it into a multiple-sided jigsaw puzzle that links events, issues, or personalities differently for different groups. Unlike personal memory, whose authority fades with time, the authority of collective memories increases as time passes, taking on new complications, nuances, and interests. Collective memories allow for the fabrication, rearrangement, elaboration, and omission of details about the past, often pushing aside accuracy and authenticity so as to accommodate broader issues of identity formation, power and authority, and political affiliation.

Memories in this view become not only the simple act of recall but social, cultural, and political action at its broadest level, "not things we think about, but things we think with, [possessing little] existence beyond our politics, our social relations, and our histories. We know, for instance, that collective memories lack an identifiable beginning and end, are ever changing, and are often accomplished amid the ruins of earlier recollections—as when history books are rewritten or statues of former heroes taken down to accommodate new targets of emulation.

Collective memories implicitly value the negation of the act, where forgetting reflects a choice to put aside what no longer matters. We also know that collective memories are unpredictable, often appearing when least expected. Because they are not necessarily stable, linear, rational, or logical, memories take on pieces of the past in unanticipated ways, as when former U.

We know too that collective memories are partial. No single memory reflects all that is known about a given event, personality, or issue. Instead, memories resemble a mosaic, where they generate an authoritative vision in repertoire with other views of the past. For instance, the Yitzhak Rabin assassination in Israel in produced talk of various U. What else do we know about collective memory? We know that collective memories are usable, facilitating cultural, social, economic, and political connections, establishing social order, and determining belonging, exclusivity, solidarity, and continuity.

Decorating housefronts for Halloween, displaying wedding rings, and wearing red ribbons on National AIDS Day all signal community membership for certain persons and community exclusion for others. Collective memories are also both particular and universal.

This follows from the rather basic fact that everyone participates in the production of memory, though not equally.

As Iwona Irwin-Zarecka has observed, the term collective suggests an ideal rather than a given. We also know that collective memories are material. We find memories in objects, narratives about the past, even the routines by which we structure our day. No memory is fully embodied in any of these cultural forms, but instead bounces to and fro among all of them on its way to gaining meaning. And finally, we know that collective memories are plural.

Dependent on interpretive groups called "memory communities" to gain meaning, memory "depends for its existence on the social codes that prevail in a group, a time, or place. Certain vehicles of memory help communities address significant collective agendas more effectively than others, and which vehicle "we resort to to represent our witness of the times, depends on who we are, and what we need to know, which facts we wish to verify, and which to obscure.

The important issue becomes "not how accurately a recollection fitted some piece of a past reality, but why historical actors constructed their memories in a particular way at a particular time. Memories become not only the construction of social, historical, and cultural circumstances, but a reflection of why one construction has more staying power than its rivals.

The study of collective memories thereby represents a graphing of the past as it is woven into the present and future. Despite its popularity, however, the study of collective memories has been plagued by a broad range of unaddressed issues. Some have had to do with memory itself: Which memory? What kind of memory? How complete or authentic a memory?

Others have focused on the activity of remembering: Who remembers? Why do we remember, how, and with what resources? For whom is remembering being accomplished? And others have targeted the status of remembering: How does the power of memory persist over time? How does it act as evidence for things and events of the past?

How does it prove or disprove remembered events? And is the issue of proof more or less relevant as time passes?

Images in Collective Memory Much of our ability to remember depends on images. Hailed in classical Rome as a mnemonic device for personal remembering, the images of social memory borrow from a broad tradition of pictorial depiction that used painting, photography, and ideographic systems of communication to make its messages public.

How images work depends largely on their complex linkage with words. Images have in part always depended on words for directed interpretation. William Saroyan comments that "one picture is worth a thousand words but only if you look at the picture and say or think the thousand words"; the image "invites the written information which alone can specify its relation to localities, time, individual identity, and the other categories of human understanding.

In dealing with the most realistic image—the photograph—this has particular importance. For there, the visual, aligned with the camera, produces a powerful interpretive tool that derives strength from both its mechanical aura and the verisimilitude that it conveys. The link between words and images becomes even more complex in memory. While words function much like the "index cards" of shared memory, with phrases from the Gettysburg Address, jingles on advertisements, and opening statements in memorable court cases cluttering our memory banks, images depend on their material form when operating as vehicles of memory.

Our ability to remember the past is facilitated by photographs, paintings, and snippets of films that are readily available in the public sphere. Thus, materiality renders visual memory different from other kinds of remembering. Yet difficulties arise when using images to collectively shape the past. Images, particularly photographs, do not make obvious how they construct what we see and remember. Often, they arbitrarily connect with the object or event being remembered.

As scholars James Fentress and Chris Wickham have noted, the "relation between a remembered image and the meaning or event to which this image supposedly refers is inherently arbitrary; yet nothing in the nature of the remembered images themselves gives this away.

Electronic image tampering also shows the ease with which composite images can be made to appear natural. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc.


Remembering to Forget: Holocaust Memory through the Camera's Eye

Purchase Subscription prices and ordering Short-term Access To purchase short term access, foret sign in to your Oxford Academic account above. Informed by this triad of concerns, Remembering to Forget offers a novel, and finally sobering, perspective on the questions of memory and bwrbie that continue to concern scholars from a host of disciplinary backgrounds. American Historical Association members Sign in via society site. Instead, but just as importantly, we learn what questions to ask of photography, especially in those cases when images are called upon to bear witness to atrocity. Amazon Music Stream millions of songs.


Remembering to Forget: Holocaust Memory Through the Camera's Eye / Edition 2

Faugor Well written and argued, superbly produced with more photographs of atrocity than most people would want to see in a lifetime, this is clearly an important barbid. Aug 11, Donnie rated it really liked it Recommends it for: Just a moment while we sign you in to your Goodreads account. For more information, or to order this book, please visit https: The thesi I read this book for fkrget class. European History General History.


Barbie Zelizer, Ph.D.

Chapter One Collective Memories, Images, and the Atrocity of War In writings published posthumously after world War II, the cultural critic Walter Benjamin contended that images of public events merit attention because they offer a compressed moral guide for the future. Through U. But they have provided only a thin veneer of knowledge about the camps and the atrocities that took place inside. How were those first images of the camps produced and presented? By whom and under which circumstances? How were they received and to what effect?




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