Are Holocaust Victims Jewish? Looking at Photographs in the Imperial War Museum Holocaust Exhibition

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Abstract

This essay argues that the representation of Jewish identifications in the permanent Holocaust exhibition in the Imperial War Museum, London, tries to balance the self-representation of Jewish victims with the demands of a perpetrator-led narrative that by necessity characterises Jews in antisemitic terms. The analysis is based on close readings of the exhibition, in particular of the photographic displays, archival sources and interviews with curators. Ultimately, the exhibition is unable to represent Jewish victims of the Holocaust as subjects with agency, because it focuses on the process of destruction at the expense of expounding on what was destroyed. This may be inevitable in a Holocaust exhibition. Nonetheless, the article poses the question whether such an approach has the consequence of unwittingly perpetuating antisemitic representations of Jews and Jewishness.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)91-106
JournalMelilah: Manchester Journal of Jewish Studies
VolumeSupplement 1
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2012

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