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Therkel Straede

This paper traces the massacres of Jews and Soviet prisoners of war in November 1941 in the city of Bobruisk, Eastern Belarus. Sparked by a current memorial at one of the killing sites, the author examines the historic events of the killings themselves and presents a micro level analysis of the various techniques for murdering and disposing of such large numbers of victims. A contrast will be shown between the types of actions applied to the victims by the German army, SS, police personnel and other local collaborators, reflecting an imposed racial hierarchisation even after their death.

Human Remains and Violence: An Interdisciplinary Journal
From legal procedures to collective forgetting
Johanna Lehr

This article seeks to show that the bodies of Jewish people who died in the Drancy internment camp between 1941 and 1944 were handled on French soil in a doubly normalised manner: first by the police and judicial system, and then in relation to funeral arrangements. My findings thus contradict two preconceived ideas that have become firmly established in collective memory: first, the belief that the number who died in the Drancy camp is difficult to establish; and second, the belief that the remains of internees who died in the camp were subjected to rapid and anonymous burial in a large mass grave in Drancy municipal cemetery.

Human Remains and Violence: An Interdisciplinary Journal
Joachim Neander

During the Second World War and its aftermath, the legend was spread that the Germans turned the bodies of Holocaust victims into soap stamped with the initials RIF, falsely interpreted as made from pure Jewish fat. In the years following liberation, RIF soap was solemnly buried in cemeteries all over the world and came to symbolise the six million killed in the Shoah, publicly showing the determination of Jewry to never forget the victims. This article will examine the funerals that started in Bulgaria and then attracted several thousand mourners in Brazil and Romania, attended by prominent public personalities and receiving widespread media coverage at home and abroad. In 1990 Yad Vashem laid the Jewish soap legend to rest, and today tombstones over soap graves are falling into decay with new ones avoiding the word soap. RIF soap, however, is alive in the virtual world of the Internet and remains fiercely disputed between believers and deniers.

Human Remains and Violence: An Interdisciplinary Journal
Open Access (free)
Portraying the exhumation and reburial of Polish Jewish Holocaust victims in the pages of yizkor books
Gabriel N. Finder

accomplices killed Poland’s Jews mainly in death camps and concentration camps, but a sizable proportion of the victims perished in ghettos, in hiding, in open fields, in forests, by the side of roads, and in small labour camps unequipped to cope with a cascade of dead bodies. And since the rate of killing in death camps and concentration camps eventually exceeded their capacity to incinerate their victims, by the end of the Second World War these camps, too, were overrun by corpses. By the same token, hundreds of Jewish cemeteries lay in ruins, desecrated, their human

in Human remains and identification
Open Access (free)
The daily work of Erich Muhsfeldt, chief of the crematorium at Majdanek concentration and extermination camp, 1942–44
Elissa Mailänder

, where Jewish infants were also occasionally held. The Jewish prisoners – women, men, and children – were systematically murdered, since Majdanek was, between June 1942 and November 1943, one of the extermination camps for European Jews from all over Europe. The history of the camp is directly linked with the National Socialist policy of occupation and extermination in occupied Poland, as well as with the course of the war on the Eastern Front. Majdanek was a place of political and racist persecution and forced labour, and, at the same time, it was a place of

in Destruction and human remains
Open Access (free)
Machines of mass incineration in fact, fiction, and forensics
Robert Jan van Pelt

taking place in the country of Dichter und Denker (poets and philosophers). Not a few journalists remembered the poet Heinrich Heine’s prediction a century earlier: ‘Where one burns books, one soon will burn people’.2 Twelve years later it appeared that Heine’s prophecy had been realized: the Nazis and their allies had killed 6 million European Jews, and driven another million into exile overseas. I use the word ‘appeared’ because, in fact, only very, very few of those victims were burned alive. Over 3 million Jews were killed in gas chambers, while bullets killed some

in Destruction and human remains
Alexander Korb

, the German Reich and Italy differed on the precise organiz­ation of the Croatian state. It was split into two spheres of interest and provided occasion for numerous conflicts between the Axis powers, ranging from the handling of the Ustaša massacres to the question of whether the Jews in the Italian zone should be deported to Auschwitz. The aim of the Ustaša was to convert Croatia into an ethnically homogeneous nation-state, despite the fact that the Catholic Croatian portion of the population was only just over 50 per cent. The Germans supported the Ustaša in the

in Human remains and mass violence
Open Access (free)
The tales destruction tells
Élisabeth Anstett
Jean-Marc Dreyfus

. It is to be published in the same book series with Manchester University Press, titled Human Remains and Mass Violence: Methodological Approaches.7 Bearing this in mind, we attempt here to compare areas that may, prima facie, appear very different, both in their historical context and in the forms and extents of the persecutions and massacres concerned. Indeed, how can we compare the treatment of the corpses of the 6 million Jews murdered in the Holocaust with the disappeared persons of the Argentine dictatorship in 1976, of whom fewer than 10,000 have been

in Destruction and human remains
Open Access (free)
Mass violence, corpses, and the Nazi imagination of the East
Michael McConnell

civilian population. The treatment and display of corpses contributed to the expansion of mass violence between 1941 and 1944. The war against banditry The anti-partisan war allows scholars to examine the reciprocal relationship between cultural fantasy and atrocity. Unlike Nazi per­secutions of ethnic minorities such as the Jews and Roma, the anti-partisan war struck the entire population of Eastern Europe. It not only internalized these genocides, casting the victims as partisans alongside their Slavic neighbours. Efforts to eliminate resistance, perceived or otherwise

in Destruction and human remains
Open Access (free)
A war of extermination, grave looting, and culture wars in the American West
Tony Platt

Following the suggestion of Elissa Mailänder, ‘destruction’ might be a better, more general, and less legalistic term to describe what happened to the Indians of California because their demise involved everything from massacres to psychological torture and starvation, ‘fast as well as stealthy and slow killings’.12 I think it is useful to understand Native deaths resulting from disease and malice as interrelated, just as Holocaust scholars regard the estimated 20 per cent of Jews who died in the camps from malnutrition and exhaustion as victims of genocide.13 No doubt

in Human remains and identification