Censoring the Holocaust: How Books Shape Our View of a Painful Past

Censoring the Holocaust: How Books Shape Our View of a Painful Past

Dec 5, 2022 By Edna Friedberg | Public Event video

Ever since the 1940s, books about the Holocaust have proven flashpoints. From early editions of The Diary of Anne Frank that omitted controversial passages to more recent attempts to ban the graphic memoir Maus from some classrooms, what we read about this difficult history often amplifies broader societal debates. In this session we look back at Holocaust literature (both fiction and non-fiction) and how its popularity shifts depending on time and place. 

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Love During the Holocaust

Love During the Holocaust

Feb 14, 2022 By Edna Friedberg | Public Event video

The Holocaust was one of the most profound ruptures in Jewish history. And yet, the foundational human emotion of love persisted—and even blossomed—in the most devastating circumstances. Dr. Edna Friedberg explores the varied manifestations of love—romantic, parental, platonic—at a time of terror and loss. Each of these forms of deep affection and connection offered psychological sustenance and sometimes spurred life-saving acts of courage and altruism. The session will draw from primary sources including diaries, oral testimonies, artifacts, and historical photographs.

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Trauma and Testimony in an Oversharing Society

Trauma and Testimony in an Oversharing Society

Dec 7, 2020 By Edna Friedberg | Public Event video

The pandemic has forced us to live much of our lives online. But what happens when experiences that used to be private and intimate are exposed to the glare of public scrutiny? How is the impact of experience changed by retelling it, and does sharing our experiences make them more meaningful? This is a discussion of how refugees from war-torn Europe were recast as “Holocaust survivors” and how trauma morphs when repackaged for broader consumption. The session will include pioneering early audio and film recordings of survivors as young people in the 1940s and 50s. 

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Literature as Lifeline: What were Jews Reading and Writing in the Ghettos?

Literature as Lifeline: What were Jews Reading and Writing in the Ghettos?

Jun 15, 2020 By Edna Friedberg | Public Event video

During the Holocaust, hundreds of thousands of Jews were imprisoned in urban prison zones known as ghettos. Reading and writing offered a form of spiritual sustenance to these communities under siege. This is an exploration of the literature that Jews passed around the ghettos–novels, poetry, religious commentary, and even dark humor.

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Does the Holocaust Play an Outsized Role in Contemporary Jewish Identity?

Does the Holocaust Play an Outsized Role in Contemporary Jewish Identity?

May 2, 2019 By Edna Friedberg | Commentary | Yom Hashoah

I am a Jewish historian—and that is a deliberately ambiguous label. In one reading of that phrase, I am a historian of Jewish people and their experiences. But I am also proudly Jewish myself and as such not neutral about my subjects. Jewish history is personal for me, as is my daily work at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington. When I began to work at the Holocaust Museum in 1999, I was wary that I would contribute to what some see as an unhealthy obsession with Jewish victimization.

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