Remembrance as Time Passes

How our culture of remembrance is changing in view of a disappearing generation of contemporary witnesses to World War II was the subject of a conference called “Preserving Survivors´ Memories – Digital Testimony Collections about Nazi Persecution” at the Haus der Kulturen der Welt in Berlin from 20 to 22 November 2012.

Geoffrey Hartman per video connection

Geoffrey Hartman per video connection © Birgit Meißner, EVZ

The conference was kicked off by Yale University comparative literature professor (emeritus) and Holocaust studies pioneer, Geoffrey Hartman. Born in Frankfurt in 1929, Hartman emigrated to England in 1939 as part of the refugee children’s movement. Together with his wife Renée, a survivor of the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, he became involved in the founding of the Fortunoff Archive, which has recorded video interviews with Holocaust survivors since the 1970s. He views these video interviews as constituting a genre of their own, whose greatest significance comes from allowing survivors to speak for themselves.  continue reading

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Constantin Brunner in Context

Constantin Brunner (1862–1937) is one of the philosophical authors whose work remains to be discovered. Constantin Brunner sitting at his deskOn the occasion of his 150th birthday and the 75th anniversary of his death, the Jewish Museum hosted a conference that traced the whole range of his thought and personality.

The German Jewish philosopher, pen-named Brunner while originally named Leo Wertheimer, was born in Altona outside of Hamburg. He studied religion, philosophy, and history in Cologne, Berlin, and Freiburg, and subsequently lived and worked in Hamburg as an editor and writer, until devoting himself to the development of his own philosophical system, starting in 1895 in Berlin and then from 1913 in Potsdam.  continue reading

In a Vienna Coffeehouse, 1935

“It didn’t begin until 1935, when I was sitting over a newspaper in a Vienna coffeehouse and was studying the Nuremberg Laws, which had just been enacted across the border in Germany. I needed only to skim them and already I could perceive that they applied to me. Society, concretized in the National Socialist German state, which the world recognized absolutely as the legitimate representative of the German people, had just made me formally and beyond any question a Jew, or rather it had given a new dimension to what I had already known earlier, but which at the time was of no great consequence to me, namely, that I was a Jew.   continue reading

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