Places of terror: Trends and tensions in the transnational memory of totalitarian terror and genocide in Postwar Europe



After a period of commemorating the Second World War by national war monuments and museums, Auschwitz and other WWII Holocaust memory sites have become significant icons of modern European identity. In particular since the fall of the Wall (1989), the Yugoslav Wars (1991-1995) and the Western War on Terror (2001-), the horror of ethnic conflict and genocide play an important role in politics, history and heritage. Yet, the crimes of Nazism and the Holocaust ? that seem indisputable in Western European public opinion - have received only selective attention in Southern and Eastern European countries because of the competing legacy of dictatorship and mass terror. Now, WWII?s memorials and memory sites are not just looking to WWI?s ?sites of mourning?, but also to ?New Europe?s? experiences with Nazi and (often long lasting) Soviet occupation, or fascist and communist terror and civil war, before and after WWII. The proposed research will reveal how Europe?s topography of Holocaust memory has not only expanded, but how it has been completely transformed by the integration into the European community of countries like Greece, Spain, the Czech Republic, Poland, Slovenia, Hungary, Romania, and former Eastern Germany. This research will offer insight into how governments and citizens of different European nations deal with conflicting pasts in heritage and memory sites. The dynamics of memory will be approached comparatively. The focus of this investigation will be on ?terrorscapes?, a concept related to the ITF definition of Holocaust museums and memorials as well as to the academic concepts ? related to the spatial turn in cultural and historical sciences - of (official) heritage and memory sites, and (newly recovered) places and traces of memory. The outcome will be an international conference, a travelling exhibition, and a research publication. This investigation is expected to contribute to our understanding of the European process of memory making, which includes forgetting and the negotiation of contested memories. Consequently, it may shed light on European misunderstandings. The project will be supported by the MMWG of the ITF Holocaust Cooperation on Education, Rembrance and Research, the Memorial Centres Camp Westerbork, Vught and Sobibor, Potocari Memorial and Cemetry, Jewish Museum of Deportation and Resistance Dossin (Mechelen), and NIAS (KNAW).(NWO dssnr. DVH-09-08)
Degree of recognitionInternational
Granting OrganisationsNWO-Geesteswetenschappen