Debates on the Holocaust

Author:
Tom Lawson
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This book is about the ways in which the Holocaust has been rendered and represented as History. From court-rooms to history books, efforts to grapple with and award meaning to the genocide of the Jews, in historical terms, have been a consistent feature of post-war intellectual culture and it is these representations that are the subject of the book. The book confronts the first attempts to form historical narratives of the murder of the European Jews per se. It finds a discourse that is as much concerned with the moral politics of judgement in the post-war world as it is with the Shoah. The book also breaks the narrative of the development of the history of the perpetrators. It argues that once it had been created by historians, others began to ask how institutions and individuals external to Nazi-occupied Europe had responded to the Holocaust. Again a divided historiography is uncovered, and again the divisions are as much concerned with what does and does not constitute legitimate historical enquiry as with the issues of responses to the Holocaust themselves. The book further deals with the victims and survivors - who were often excluded from more general Holocaust narratives. An analysis of work on the testimonies of surviving victims finds that debates about how best to use this material are in essence a discourse concerned with the moral possibilities of history-writing.

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