Scholarship on the Holocaust and its representations has benefitted beyond measure from the end of the Cold War thirty years ago. The manifold opportunities of improved access to archives in Central and Eastern Europe and increased exchange with scholars in the region have revitalized the field. Recently, early research conducted by witnesses and survivors of the Holocaust, post-war trials in Central and Eastern Europe, and the perspective of victims have come into focus of scholarship. While there is consensus on the Holocaust having been a transnational historical process, there is no understanding of the extent to which the Cold War conditioned, framed and formed the histories of the Holocaust constructed between 1945 and 1990.
The Fritz Bauer Institut in Frankfurt and the Imre Kertész Kolleg Jena are joining forces to explore this field. The aim is to focus on the interplay between the gradual awareness of the Holocaust and the advancing Cold War and to look at the ways in which both influenced narratives about the other. Since a larger part of the knowledge about the Holocaust was produced between 1944 and 1989, the question arises to what extent the Cold War affected representations of the Holocaust in historiography, legal investigations and trials, the arts and how this has formatted political discourse until today. The conference takes stock of the confrontational nature of the Cold War and discusses how debating on the Holocaust became a discursive and ideological weapon in the arsenals of both blocks. Exploring artistic visions and moral values shared on both sides of the Iron Curtain promises new insights both into the culture of the Cold War and its effect on addressing the Holocaust after World War II.
The Fritz Bauer Institut is an independent interdisciplinary research and educational center with a focus on contemporary history. It studies and documents the history of National Socialism’s mass crimes – particularly the Holocaust – and their impact until the present day.
The Imre Kertész Kolleg at the Friedrich Schiller University of Jena is an Institute of Advanced Studies, with a thematic focus on the history, culture and societies of twentieth-century Eastern Europe.