Monthly Archives: January 2015

‘The Holocaust Memorial Museum: Sacred Secular Space’ Dr Avril Alba, University of Sydney

From the Genocide Research Group Blog

Genocide Research Group

Northumbria University: Thursday 22 January, 3pm, Sutherland Building Boardroom 1

Avril Alba teaches and researches in the areas of Holocaust and modern Jewish history. Prior to jointing the Department of Hebrew, Biblical and Jewish Studies at the University of Sydney in 2012, Avril worked as Education Director at the Sydney Jewish Museum where she also curated the permanent exhibition Culture and Continuity. She is currently the lead consulting curator for the redevelopment of the museum’s permanent Holocaust exhibition. Her monograph, The Holocaust Memorial Museum: Sacred Secular Space, will be published in 2015 by Palgrave Macmillan. In this heritage seminar, Avril will be talking about the intersection between her research and curatorial practice.

All welcome. Please RSVP  to helen.williams@northumbria.ac.uk

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Martin Freeman: exposing Adolf Eichmann

[From The Guardian]

It’s dawn and it’s sub-zero and it’s a potholed car park in Vilnius, eastern Lithuania, and a hobbit is preparing to tell the world about the Holocaust. A dark-suited Martin Freeman, breath steaming, pauses to greet us on his hurried way from trailer to set, and already he’s in character, with a soft New York accent which he will insist on retaining even off set. Nothing is as it seems. Far less so than is normal even in the kooky looking-glass world of film. Vilnius is playing Jerusalem in the broiling summer. The year is 1961.

A television programme is being made about the making of a television programme. It was a big television programme. In May 1960 Adolf Eichmann was captured by Mossad and Shin Bet agents on the streets of Buenos Aires, where he had been living under the name of Ricardo Klement since 1952. He was smuggled back to Israel and put on trial for genocide, for his leading part as architect of the Final Solution. The decision was made to film the trial for a worldwide TV audience.

Hence, today, Viesoji Istaiga Vilniaus Kulturos Pramogu Ir Sporto Rumai, or the Vilnius Cultural, Entertainment and Sports Palace, a Stalin-era delight of neo-brutalist fearful symmetry, and thus in a way appropriate, encapsulating the last century’s other wave of optimistic totalitarianism. It is rather beautiful, in its ugliness, but it is primarily useful today for the existence of 1961-era microphones and cameras, an auditorium wholly available for conversion to a courtroom, several severely talented Vilnius craftsmen and a handful of local mensches doubling as Israeli guards and possibly wishing it was actually 1961 and, maybe, Jerusalem and actually warm.

The decision to film Eichmann’s trial was taken in 1960 by David Ben-Gurion, first prime minister of Israel, partly because he had been befriended by a young US producer by the name of Milton Fruchtman. Martin Freeman, who plays him, explains in Fruchtman’s accent (he’s wary of dropping out of dialect even for a lunchtime chat): “I’ve read up on Milton – he’d been filming some neo-Nazis in the 50s, in some bierkeller – and at the end they stood and chanted ‘Heil Hitler’, 15 years after the fucking war, and that led him indirectly to Ben-Gurion, whom he essentially schmoozed. Milton was charming, and fluent in both Hebrew and German, and he persuaded the Israeli authorities to allow him to film proceedings.”

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70 years after the Holocaust, new app brings its voices to modern devices

[From The Guardian]

4e2938ce-0c7b-45c1-a719-6c1660ad2935-620x372Seventy years after the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp, an Android and iOS application is aiming to provide new insights into the Holocaust for modern-day smartphone and tablet users.

70 Voices: Victims, Perpetrators and Bystanders is the work of the Holocaust Educational Trust, which has made it available as a free download through Google, Amazon and Apple’s app stores.

The app will offer 70 different perspectives on the Holocaust from people who were alive at the time, at a time when the number of people able to give firsthand accounts continues to dwindle.

The app will provide a different “voice” each day for the next 70 days, with a weekly podcast also exploring the material’s themes and implications. The app’s content will also be published on the 70 Voices website.

“In this significant anniversary year, we want to give as many people as possible the opportunity to take a moment to learn something new about the Holocaust,” said Karen Pollock, the trust’s chief executive.

“We are always looking for new ways to reach people and this app puts that opportunity in the palm of their hands.”

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Kremer’s bold program includes two works by Mieczysław Weinberg

Montreal Gazette

Mozart, Schubert, no problem.

But the duo performance on Wednesday in the Maison symphonique by violinist Gidon Kremer and pianist Daniil Trifonov includes two works by Mieczysław Weinberg, 1919-1996, a Polish-born Russian composer whose name remains on the margins of recognition.

Even the spelling of that name has been a problem since the New Grove Dictionary of Music initially bestowed two generous paragraphs on him under the aegis of “Vaynberg.” The “Weinberg” spelling is now in the ascendant, especially after performances last year in Houston and New York of his Holocaust-theme opera The Passenger (which opens at the Chicago Lyric Opera on Feb. 24).

Kremer is a Weinberg believer. Notes to the violinist’s ECM recording of the Solo Violin Sonata No. 3 Op. 126 cite his opinion that this relatively progressive piece of 1979 can stand alongside Bartók’s Sonata for Solo Violin. At 22 minutes, it is approximately as…

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An unlikely tribute: How cult U.K. band Joy Division found inspiration in Auschwitz

[From Haaretz]

They were the darkest of the late-1970s U.K. bands, skyrocketing to fame after their lead singer hanged himself in 1980 to become one of the most bootlegged bands ever. But Joy Division’s greatest enigma may have been its name — a reference to the brothel at Auschwitz as depicted in the book “House of Dolls” by Ka-Tzetnik 135633 (Yehiel De-Nur).

That sinister fact, while lost on the new kids sporting their ubiquitous “Unknown Pleasures” T-shirts — among them Iggy Azalea, Kristen Stewart and the members of One Direction — has only added to the band’s mystique. Other doom-and-gloom acts from the period may have spouted nihilistic lyrics and quoted Existentialists such as Albert Camus and Jean-Paul Sartre, but no one else compared their sense of despair, isolation and self-loathing with that of a Nazi sex slave, as Joy Division did in its first single, “No Love Lost.” Its cover depicted a Hitler youth member beating a drum. The B-side, “Warsaw,” recounted the story of Nazi deserter Rudolf Hess, who fled to Scotland.

So, how did a this handful of young non-Jews from Manchester, England, become obsessed with the Holocaust? Thirty-five years after the band’s breakup, two new books shed light on the odd connection.

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The Last of the Unjust review – documentary about a divisive Holocaust survivor

[From The Guardian]

At 87, Claude Lanzmann is still capable of enforcing his film-making personality on European cinema: he is a landmark in the shadow of his great subject, the Holocaust. His film, Shoah, is now best seen not merely as an incomparable record, but as an intervention in history, an insistence on eyewitness testimony and compelling truth. This new film is a remarkable companion to his masterpiece Shoah: a fascinating encounter, recorded in Rome in the 1970s, while working on his great film but not used at the time, for reasons that Lanzmann leaves us to ponder.

It is an interview with Benjamin Murmelstein, an Austrian Jew and last surviving “chairman” of the Theresienstadt ghetto, near Prague, a supposedly comfortable Potemkin-style arrangement that was part of a sickening pantomime of ostensible good faith after the Anschluss. Murmelstein explains that their inhabitants, and the world, were distracted with the fatuous fantasy of being shipped over to Madagascar: a cynical euphemism for the death marches and extermination, in which Murmelstein was held to be complicit. The Nazis coerced leading Jews to be their administrative “elders” there, a queasy use of Judeophobe-propagandist terminology, and Murmelstein was the last surviving example (his predecessors were murdered by the Nazis).

He was a man hated after the war for being a collaborator. But he was someone who perhaps saved lives due to his endless and often terrifying negotiations with Adolf Eichmann on the subject of emigration, when the Nazi authorities still believed that allowing Jews to depart without their money might be practicable and profitable.

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