New Approaches to the Rescue of Jews during the Holocaust: History, Politics, Commemoration
Selma Stern Zentrum – International Conference: November 23-25, 2020, Berlin
The 2020 Selma Stern Center international conference will focus on memory cultures that developed in the aftermath of the Shoah. It will particularly address a central but often underestimated issue, namely the commemoration of the rescue of Jews during the Holocaust.
While we do not possess reliable statistics, various estimates suggest that during the Nazi era several thousands of Jews survived the Second World War with the help of non-Jews, mostly in the occupied countries, but also in Germany. A significant amount of historical research has been done on the period from 1933 to 1945. Only recently, however, scholars from the US, Great Britain, France, Israel, Poland, and other countries began to focus increasingly on the question of how the topic of rescue was perceived, and which role the former rescuers as well as the survivors played in different national contexts after 1945. As a matter of fact, immediately after the Second World War the rescue of Jews became part of various scholarly and political debates and has continued to be so for now over 70 years. As captured in the title of our conference, this reception—and at times instrumentalization—serves a variety of purposes and has wider historical, political, and ideological implications.
We invite scholars of various stages in their careers and of various disciplines (history, literature, cultural studies, museum studies, memory studies, sociology and other relevant fields), whose work focuses on questions of the memory of rescue, to participate in our conference. Possible topics include, but are not restricted to:
- the genesis and function of the commemoration of rescue of Jews in specific national contexts
- the genesis and function of the commemoration of specific rescuers
- the commemoration and its interplay with the historical situation
- the awards, which were given to rescuers after 1945 (including the renowned medal of the Righteous Among the Nations by Yad Vashem and other awards)
- transnational/international/global/glocal/local perspectives and/or agency
- the universalization of Holocaust memory and its connection to the rescue of Jews
- rescue of Jewish archives and Judaica
- gender and class
- the rescue of Jews on display in museums