Buried monuments: Yiddish songs and Holocaust memory
History Workshop Journal, 66, (1), Autumn Issue, . (doi:10.1093/hwj/dbn026).
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This article explores the relationship between music and Holocaust memory, particularly the extent to which present-day conceptions of that relationship have shifted from those of the early postwar years, and considers the distinctive ways in which music might alternatively inform the process of memorialization. Music has from the outset been a key mediator of Holocaust memory, from the earliest commemorations amongst survivors until today; it is arguably one of the most important media through which ideas and attitudes about the past are constructed and shared. While collectors working in the immediate postwar years believed music to be integral to the project of documenting the Holocaust, in recent decades music has increasingly been seen as a seemingly natural opportunity for redemptive, hope-tinged discourse, emphasizing the faith, heroism, and resistance of Nazism's victims. In the context of increasingly diversified ideas about how and why we remember the Holocaust, the article argues that music's distinctive potential as a memorial object has been under-developed: potential both for enriching and deepening the scope of popular memorialization, and for challenging some of the unconstructive narratives that have dominated the memorialization process. The motivations of the early collectors, and their articulation of music's value, offer a helpful starting point for rethinking how this relationship might be conceived.
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