Τετάρτη 4 Ιουνίου 2008, ώρα 6:30μμ, Αίθουσα ΔΕΟΠΣ, Πανεπιστήμιο Μακεδονίας
Omer Bartov, Florent Brayard, Henry Rousso
The place of testimony in the history and historiography of the Holocaust
Omer Bartov (John P. Birkelund Distinguished Professor of European History, Brown University)
"The Holocaust from Below: Testimonies as Documents of Communal Genocide"
Professor Bartov will discuss the use of testimonies in the reconstruction of the Holocaust on the local level. He will argue that much of mainstream Holocaust scholarship has focused on the official documents of the perpetrators and was written largely from their perspective. This has skewed our understanding of the event. Testimonies, when used at all, were mostly employed as anecdotal illustrations of arguments based on other documentation. This has deprived us of an understanding of the experience of the victims, interactions between victims and perpetrators, the impact of interethnic relations on the implementation of the Holocaust, and has also hindered the reconstruction of events that were not recorded in "official" documentation.
Florent Brayard (Centre Marc Bloch, Berlin)
The Principle of the Purloined Letter. A look back on the Holocaust historiography
During the Nuremberg-Trial, the prosecution has had the difficult task to reconstruct the decision making process of the "Final Solution of the Jewish Question". As we know, the most important documents had been destroyed by Eichmann a few months earlier, at the end of the war. The only solution then was to rely on testimonies. Only a few witnesses were in fact able to testify on the very heart of this decision-making process. Since Kaltenbrunner didn't want to say anything (and he was not so much involved during the crucial period), nor Pohl, and since Eichmann was still free, there were only two: Höss, the commandant of Auschwitz, and a subordinate of Eichmann, Wisliceny. The two of them, even in a different way, were very willing to testify, but their accounts were completely contradictory in terms of the chronology of the "Final Solution". Retrospectively, we know that one of the witnesses was incredibly accurate, while the other was absolutely wrong. One was trusted, the other not. The problem is that the favorite, the "good" witness was the inaccurate one. Why? What was the effect of this mistake on the historiography of the "Final Solution" until now? Could this be an example of the principle of the "Purloined Letter", after Edgar Alan Poe, following which the more an object is put to evidence, the less it is seen?
Henry Rousso (Senior researcher at the Institut d'histoire du temps présent (CNRS), Professor at the Institut d'études politiques de Paris and Paris-10 Nanterre), commentator:
"The Holocaust today: what kind of history ?"