When Memory Comes
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slowly, people became interested in the Holocaust. In the late '60s,
as American youth were protesting the Vietnam War, German teens
were beginning to ask their parents what they did in WWII. In the
United States, a television mini-series, The Holocaust, presented
the horror in a dramatic way, as did the more recent Schindler's
List and Life Is Beautiful.
views these dramatic presentations with mixed feelings. As an historian,
he can't help but shudder at historic inaccuracies or the inability
of dramas to put events into context.
don't feel at ease with them because they simplify the Holocaust.
But," he adds with a self-deprecating smile, "I may not be the best
understands the need for some dramatic license to tell a story.
At least, he says, films like Schindler's List add to the general
public interest in the subject. "You have to make allowances for
what film makers have to do to attract the interest of a wide audience,"
he says. "The danger is in distortion."
he says, "enough distance has passed that people can examine the
era. For example, the Vatican is just now struggling with the issue
of Pope Pius XII (and the church's relationship to the Third Reich).
Interest in the Holocaust is coming now from all sides."
who also edits the journal History & Memory, which focuses on questions
relating to the formation of historical consciousness, also is aware
of the danger of being too close, too personally involved in his
subject. He takes pains to separate himself emotionally from the