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The liberation of the Nazi concentration camps in British memory

The liberation of the Nazi concentration camps in British memory
The liberation of the Nazi concentration camps in British memory

Through an exploration of both past and present day reactions to the liberation of the Nazi concentration camps this thesis will attempt to trace the roots of Britain's relationship with the Holocaust and of the formation of a Holocaust memory in Britain today. Connecting the past with the present, the thesis will argue that past British understandings of, and reactions to, the events of liberation and to the Holocaust as a whole, continue to determine the nature of Holocaust representation in Britain today. The reactions and memories of those for whom liberation was a reality and of those who recognised the distance between 'knowing and understanding' in Britain during the Holocaust years will be considered in a parallel assessment of some of the most concentrated forms of Holocaust representation in Britain today, in the form of official memorial days and in the creation of a national Holocaust museum exhibition. A case study of that Holocaust museum exhibition in London will provide a detailed means to assess the continuation of British attitudes to the Holocaust and will raise vital points both with regard to the complexities of Holocaust representation in a museum setting and in relation to those aspects of such a representation unique to Britain today. Finally the thesis will ask how far the place of the Holocaust has been changed in Britain by the presence of such a museum and will conclude that Britain's understanding of the Holocaust and the country's connections to remain as complex as ever. Taking the present as its starting point the thesis will begin with a consideration of the newly organised Holocaust Memorial Days in Britain (Introduction). The debates surrounding the Day's inception will be placed in the context of a brief background of liberation, the events of which are identified as one of the strongest connections between Britain and the Holocaust. Holocaust survivors' perception of their liberators and the extent to which their experience and memory would often differ from that later presented to the world is explored. The question of memory is also discussed here in terms of the historical assessment of their testimony. (Chapter One). The levels of understanding in Britain during the years of the Holocaust are considered and a study of the work of those who recognised a British gap between 'knowing and understanding' is included. (Chapter Two). Chapter Three compares that information to the initial reactions of the British people to the news and images of liberation. A case study of the Imperial War Museum's Holocaust Exhibition (Chapter Four) is the central focus of the study drawing together the past and present elements and exploring the extent to which such an exhibition provides a unique insight into Britain's complex relationship with the Holocaust.

University of Southampton
Bunting, Aimee Catherine
Bunting, Aimee Catherine

Bunting, Aimee Catherine (2002) The liberation of the Nazi concentration camps in British memory. University of Southampton, Doctoral Thesis.

Record type: Thesis (Doctoral)

Abstract

Through an exploration of both past and present day reactions to the liberation of the Nazi concentration camps this thesis will attempt to trace the roots of Britain's relationship with the Holocaust and of the formation of a Holocaust memory in Britain today. Connecting the past with the present, the thesis will argue that past British understandings of, and reactions to, the events of liberation and to the Holocaust as a whole, continue to determine the nature of Holocaust representation in Britain today. The reactions and memories of those for whom liberation was a reality and of those who recognised the distance between 'knowing and understanding' in Britain during the Holocaust years will be considered in a parallel assessment of some of the most concentrated forms of Holocaust representation in Britain today, in the form of official memorial days and in the creation of a national Holocaust museum exhibition. A case study of that Holocaust museum exhibition in London will provide a detailed means to assess the continuation of British attitudes to the Holocaust and will raise vital points both with regard to the complexities of Holocaust representation in a museum setting and in relation to those aspects of such a representation unique to Britain today. Finally the thesis will ask how far the place of the Holocaust has been changed in Britain by the presence of such a museum and will conclude that Britain's understanding of the Holocaust and the country's connections to remain as complex as ever. Taking the present as its starting point the thesis will begin with a consideration of the newly organised Holocaust Memorial Days in Britain (Introduction). The debates surrounding the Day's inception will be placed in the context of a brief background of liberation, the events of which are identified as one of the strongest connections between Britain and the Holocaust. Holocaust survivors' perception of their liberators and the extent to which their experience and memory would often differ from that later presented to the world is explored. The question of memory is also discussed here in terms of the historical assessment of their testimony. (Chapter One). The levels of understanding in Britain during the years of the Holocaust are considered and a study of the work of those who recognised a British gap between 'knowing and understanding' is included. (Chapter Two). Chapter Three compares that information to the initial reactions of the British people to the news and images of liberation. A case study of the Imperial War Museum's Holocaust Exhibition (Chapter Four) is the central focus of the study drawing together the past and present elements and exploring the extent to which such an exhibition provides a unique insight into Britain's complex relationship with the Holocaust.

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Published date: 2002

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Local EPrints ID: 464954
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/464954
PURE UUID: 370e643e-5bb2-4f63-94c7-fe324955765c

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Date deposited: 05 Jul 2022 00:13
Last modified: 05 Jul 2022 03:46

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Author: Aimee Catherine Bunting

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