Dora OsborneSep 27, 2021
The Post-Holocaust Archive in German Memory Culture
Camden House 2020
With the passing of those who witnessed National Socialism and the Holocaust, the archive matters as never before. However, the material that remains for the work of remembering and commemorating this period of history is determined by both the bureaucratic excesses of the Nazi regime and the attempt to eradicate its victims without trace. Dora Osborne's book What Remains: The Post-Holocaust Archive in German Memory Culture (Camden House, 2020) argues that memory culture in the Berlin Republic is marked by an archival turn that reflects this shift from embodied to externalized, material memory and responds to the particular status of the archive "after Auschwitz." What remains in this late phase of memory culture is the post-Holocaust archive, which at once ensures and haunts the future of Holocaust memory.
Drawing on the thinking of Freud, Derrida, and Georges Didi-Huberman, this book traces the political, ethical, and aesthetic implications of the archival turn in contemporary German memory culture across different media and genres. In its discussion of recent memorials, documentary film and theater, as well as prose narratives, all of which engage with the material legacy of the Nazi past, it argues that the performance of “archive work” is not only crucial to contemporary memory work but also fundamentally challenges it.
Lea Greenberg is a scholar of German studies with a particular focus on German Jewish and Yiddish literature and culture; critical gender studies; multilingualism; and literature of the post-Yugoslav diaspora.