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Mass Media and Holocaust Memory. Examples of the “ Holocaust Metaphor ”. El Periódico , 2000. Jan and Aleida Assmann.

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Jan and AleidaAssmann

Communicative Memory – everyday communication, temporal horizon of eighty to hundred years, strongly influenced by contemporaries of the remembered events. SHORT TERM MEMORY.

Cultural Memory – “body of reusable texts, images, and rituals specific to each society in each epoch, whose ‘cultivation’ serves to stabilize and convey that society’s self-image.” LONG TERM MEMORY. - (Equivalent to Tradition).

Source: Jan Assmann, “Collective Memory and Cultural Identity,” New German Critique 65 (1995), p. 132


HOLOCAUSTisaninsulttothosewhoperished, and thosewhosurvived.TheHolocaust has to be

rememberedbutnot as a TV Show.

ElieWiesel (Survivor)


SCHINDLER’S LIST isone of themostpowerful films of all time, capturingthe true horror of theHolocaust.

Anna Bergman (Survivor)



Class debate:


  • POSITIVE (Optimists) vs. NEGATIVE (Apocalyptics)
  • Furtherquestionsfordiscussion:
  • Isthere a “memoryindustry”? (CriticalTheory)
  • Isthere a seriousmemoryvs. a trivial memory?
  • Isthere true vs. false memory?
  • What are theeffectsof theserepresentations?
  • Relationbetweencomunicativememory and cultural memory.
  • Do these products energize discourses of
  • traumatic memories or block insight into specific
  • and other histories(Huyssen).




“Even  if  the  Holocaust  has  been  endlessly commercialized, that does not mean that all commercialization inevitably trivializes it as a historical event.

There is no pure space, existing outside the culture of commodities, no matter how much we would like for it to exist. Thus, a great deal depends on the specific strategies  of  representation  and  commercialization  and  the  context  in  which  both  are  staged”  

Andreas Huyesen


Memory can be transmitted to those who were not actually there to live an event.

Post-memories are memories in their own right.

Post-memory marks a particular turn-of-century moment, marked by looking backward rather than ahead and defining the present in relation to a troubled past rather than initiating new paradigms.

Post-memory is a consequence of traumatic recall but (unlike post-traumatic stress disorder) at a generational remove.

Relationship to the formative events of the XX century has been defined by the powerful but mediated forms of knowledge


Marianne Hirsch