Conference: talks, panels, performances

Hijacking Memory: Day 4

The Holocaust and the New Right

Sun, Jun 12, 2022
10 am
Free admission

In German and English with simultaneous translation in each language

Photo: Peter Hapak (2021)

10 am–12.45 pm
Appropriation of the Holocaust by the Eastern European Far Right
Jelena Subotić

Focusing on post-communist Eastern Europe, Subotić demonstrates how the familiar narratives and images of the Holocaust have been appropriated by the East European far right for two main political goals. First, Holocaust narrative and visual repertoire is used to elevate the suffering of non-Jewish national majorities in recent and distant past and equate this suffering with the suffering of the Jews in the Holocaust. Second, it is used to reposition the crimes of communism as the dominant criminal legacy of the 20th century on par with, and sometimes overtaking, the legacy of the Holocaust. This appropriation of the Holocaust is important for contemporary global politics as it provides political legitimacy for far right movements, which base their popular support on continuing cycles of national grievance and resentment.

Illiberal Memory Politics of the Holocaust in Hungary
Andrea Pető

In the past few years, Hungary has been portrayed as a negative example of memory politics in both mainstream and academic press. It was charged with being the “ground zero” for a paradigm change in World War II memory politics that was echoed in Poland when the right-wing populist PiS government passed its infamous law on criminalizing certain perspectives in historical research. The elements of this paradigm change include the nationalization of a hitherto transnational narrative, de-Judaization, competing victimhood, establishing new terminology, double speech, and anti-intellectualism. The talk discusses examples of how this new Holocaust memory paradigm is created in cooperation with international institutional actors and the academic community in Hungary. It also analyses the impacts of the war of Russia against Ukraine on the illiberal Holocaust narrative.

“Denazification of Ukraine”: Political Semantics in the Age of Fusion Genocide
Yohanan Petrovsky-Shtern

Putin's propaganda identified self-conscious Ukrainians as the Nazis and pro-Russian Ukrainians as the real Slavic brothers. This dichotomy shaped the military goals of the Russian invaders and the long-lasting plans for the unmaking of Ukraine as a sovereign state. Petrovsky-Shtern will show that the “denazification of Ukraine” was rooted in and realized as a genocidal plan precisely because it was based on racist assumptions and xenophobic myths.

Empty Symbols: The Memory of the Holocaust in Fascist Russia
Nikolay Koposov

Most authoritarian regimes and populist parties today claim they are committed to democratic values. On the one hand, this testifies to a world-wide triumph of democracy. On the other, however, the use of democratic concepts and symbols by the authoritarians and populists is no innocent operation. It depreciates these concepts and symbols and transforms them into empty signs. In which ways does Putin's propaganda deprive notions and symbols of the democratic culture of memory of their true sense and transform them into empty signs?

Lectures, followed by a discussion and Q&A, moderated by Mischa Gabowitsch

2.15–5 pm
Russische Propaganda: Instrumentalisierung des Völkermords bei dem Angriff auf die Ukraine
Mykola Borovyk

The Misuse of the Holocaust and the Fluid Russian Nationalism Today
Alexander Verkhovsky

What is worth discussing at the time of war? Verkhovsky first addresses some quantitative changes in the manifestations of anti-Semitism in Russia since 2014. Second, he looks at the changes in the way the Holocaust theme has been instrumentalized for the needs of state propaganda after February 24, 2022. And third, he describes a more complex attitude towards the prosecution for Holocaust denial in Russia’s liberal circles, which has to do with the Russian anti-extremism law enforcement practice.

Die gegenwärtige Instrumentalisierung des Holocausts in Russland und Belarus
Alexander Friedman
Unholy Alliance: Israel and the Far-Right in Europe
Ksenia Svetlova
Lectures, followed by a discussion and Q&A, moderated by Mischa Gabowitsch

5.30–7 pm
Hijacking Memory of the Holocaust: From Treblinka, Through Auschwitz to the Warsaw Ghetto
Jan Grabowski

The distortion of the history of the Holocaust has become, over the years, an unstated policy of the agencies of the Polish state and various institutions serving as its proxies. One of the aspects of this policy is an attempt to “de-Judaize” the memory of the event, or to weaken or remove the Jewish presence from the historical account. In Poland, today, it is being done in a variety of ways: shifting focus from Jewish victims to righteous gentiles, or appropriating spaces originally devoted to the Jewish suffering. The process of falsification and distortion of the history of the Shoah is best seen today in places of Jewish memory such as Treblinka, Auschwitz, or the area of the former Warsaw ghetto.

How the Polish Right is Rewriting the History of the Shoah
Konstanty Gebert

Since 2016, there has been a major reversal in the way the history of the Shoah in Poland is being presented in official discourse. The concept of Polish participation in the Shoah is being rejected as slanderous, while the efforts of Polish Righteous are being presented as typical for Polish society at the time. Vast public funds are being invested in this effort, which has been endorsed by leading political personalities, while academic and law enforcement repression is directed at critics. This is combined with a sustained campaign of refusing to provide property restitution to victims of the Shoah and their descendants. These processes make historical distortion official Polish policy.

Lectures, followed by a discussion and Q&A, moderated by Susan Neiman

7 pm
Blinded in Remembering the Present? Ask Franz
Eran Schaerf

One day Andreas appears in my life – as novel characters tend to do – and tells me about the difference between remembering and commemorating. When he visits a memorial site, he understands that he cannot take any memories from the former concentration camp with him. That time is over, but he can commemorate history without any memories of his own. He seems to come from a time when the national political currency of memory is not yet for sale. I think Andreas must know Franz, who wrote about the Armenian genocide. Franz is from a different time, I know that. I borrow from Suchan her clockworks to rehearse the multi-chronology of my story.

Lecture Performance

Hijacking Memory

Hijacking Memory: Day 1

The Holocaust and the New Right

Conference: talks, panels, screenings

Jun 9, 2022

Hijacking Memory

Hijacking Memory: Day 2

The Holocaust and the New Right

Conference: talks, panels, screening

Jun 10, 2022

Hijacking Memory

Hijacking Memory: Day 3

The Holocaust and the New Right

Conference: talks, panels, concerts

Jun 11, 2022