Emotion and Memory of the Holocaust Essay

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In the aftermath of the Jewish Holocaust, an outpouring of eyewitness accounts by both survivors and perpetrators has surfaced as historical evidence. For many, this has determined what modern popular culture remembers about this atrocious event. Emotion obviously plays a vital role in the accounts of the survivors, yet can it be considered when discussing the historical significance of the murder of six million European Jews by the Third Reich? Emotion is the expression of thoughts and beliefs affected by feeling and sensibility of an individual regarding a certain event or individual. In terms of the Holocaust, emotion is overwhelmingly prevalent in the survivors’ tales of their experiences, conveyed in terms of life, death, and …show more content…
She writes that “the ‘distortion’ related to memory…is not so much of facts or interpretations, but a distortion from the lack of congruity between personal experience and expectation…and the institutional representation of the past on the other” (Crane, 1). At some point, scholars must interpret a filtered account of the survivor’s tale, searching through the layers of important facts and emotional embellishments, and find the most important knowledge buried deep within. Yet how may one distinguish fact from emotion? Famed Holocaust historian James Young, in his 1997 work “Toward a Received History of the Holocaust,” asks:

Is it possible to write a history that includes some oblique reference to such deep memory, but which leaves it essentially intact, untouched and thereby deep? In this section, I suggest, after Patrick Hutton, that ‘What is at issue here is not how history can recover memory, but, rather, what memory will bequeath to history’ (Young, 1)

Clearly, this is an issue with which scholars have struggled to deal for years, however this paper will show that it is quite possible to distiniguish the two sides.

The methodological approach undertaken in this paper confronts each account as one in which memory and fact have merged together, through which even
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