Conceptualizations of the Holocaust in Germany, Lithuania, Poland, and Ukraine since the 1990s

05.12.-07.12.2016, Konferenz, DHI Warschau

The European and transnational dimension of the Holocaust was an important element of both the survivors' memories and the perpetrators' experiences. Although extensive investigation of the Holocaust was conducted by Jewish historians such as Filip Friedman, Szymon Datner, Leon Poliakov, and Joseph Wulf in the early post-Holocaust period and although numerous post-war trials against the perpetrators took place in Europe and beyond, for a long time the persecution and murder of the European Jews did not play a significant role in the understanding of the national histories of the countries where the actual events took place. This applies equally to West Germany as well as to those countries that had been occupied by Nazi Germany such as Lithuania, Poland, and Ukraine and which subsequently found themselves on the other side of the Iron Curtain during the Cold War. The approach taken to their own history only began to change in the 1990s – after the screening of the mini-series “Holocaust” in most European countries and the beginning of public debates about the Shoah in the countries concerned or in their communities overseas. The confrontation with the reality of the events and the “discovery” of the Holocaust for the national histories of the above mentioned countries triggered a number of debates on the nature of individual and societal participation in the Holocaust. During these debates certain exculpatory stereotypes were questioned by historians, while at the same time some national misperceptions were reinforced. In the case of Germany, new historical narratives emerged that dealt with the behaviour and role of concrete perpetrators, groups of perpetrators as well as ordinary members of the German perpetrator society (such as the Wehrmacht and employees of the Reichsbahn) during the Holocaust. As it became clear that the Holocaust “was in reality a series of ‘Holocausts’” (Dan Stone), a European phenomenon that the Nazi regime could not have carried out on such a scale if it had relied on the participation of Germans only, questions of indirect or direct involvement of parts of the civilian populations of German-occupied Europe and their responsibility have emerged.


5 December 2016

17:15: Opening

17:30: Introduction: Katrin Stoll (Warsaw) and Grzegorz Rossoliński-Liebe (Berlin)

18:00: Key-Note: Omer Bartov (Brown University): Denationalizing and Transnationalizing Holocaust Perpetrators: The View from Below

19:30: Dinner

6 December 2016

9:00-10:30: Challenging the Germano-centric approach to the Holocaust. Towards a multi-faceted perspective on the Holocaust

Chair and commentary: Grzegorz Rossoliński-Liebe (Berlin)

David Silberklang (Jerusalem): In the Eyes of the Beholder: The Complexion of the Shoah in the Lublin District

Christoph Dieckmann (Frankfurt): Old Questions, Old Methods, New Sources: New Results on Lithuania under German Occupation 1941-1944

10:30-11:00: Coffee break

11:30-14:00: Chair and commentary: Katrin Stoll (Warsaw)

Nicolas Berg (Leipzig): German Historians and the Conceptualizations of the Holocaust, 1945 to 1990

Moshe Zimmermann (Jerusalem): The Holocaust in Post-Unification German Historiography

14:00-15:30: Lunch

15:30-17:30: New Approaches to the Holocaust in Poland

Chair and commentary: Antony Polonsky (Brandeis University)

Franziska Bruder (Berlin): Escapes from Deportation Trains: Critical Reflections on new Aspects of Jewish resistance

Joshua Zimmerman (New York): The AK, the Delegate's Bureau, and the Jews: What do the Sources Reveal?

Elżbieta Janicka (Warsaw): Bystanders or Participating observers? The German Project and the Local Contexts in Occupied Poland

17:30-18:00: Coffee break

18:00-20:00: Ukraine: Investigating and Representing the Holocaust in Ukraine

Chair and commentary: Grzegorz Rossoliński-Liebe (Berlin)

Kai Struve (Halle): Anti-Jewish violence in Western Ukraine in summer 1941 – German and Ukrainian perpetrators

Anatoly Podolsky (Kiev): Exploring, Teaching and Debating the Holocaust in Ukraine since the 1990s

Olga Baranova (Vienna): Memory of the Holocaust in Ukraine and Belorussia

7 December 2016

9:00-11:00: Representing and Debating the Holocaust in Poland

Chair and commentary: Magdalena Saryusz-Wolska (Warsaw)

Joanna Michlic (London): Memory of the Holocaust at the Crossroads: Poland 2016

Hannah Wilson (Nottingham Trent University): The Re-conceptualization of Sobibór Memorial Site

Annika Wienert (Warsaw): Holocaust-related Art from Poland in National and Transnational Contexts

11:00-11:30: Coffee Break

11:30-14:00: Lithuania: Investigating the Holocaust beyond the Lithuanian nationalist and Germano-centric narratives

Chair and commentary: Saulius Sužiedėlis (Millersville University)

Stanislovas Stasiulis (Vilnius): The Holocaust in Lithuanian Historiography: Myths, problems and future perspectives

Milda Jakulytė-Vasil (Amsterdam/Vilnius): Atlas of the Lithuania Holocaust

14:00-15:00: Lunch

15:00-16:00: Lithuania: Investigating the Holocaust beyond the Lithuanian nationalist and Germano-centric narratives

Ruta Vanagaite (Vilnius): The Motivation [of the shooters] to Kill; The Motivation [of Lithuanian governments] to Conceal the Crimes

Efraim Zuroff (Jerusalem): Holocaust Distortion in Post-Communist Eastern Europe: The Example of Lithuania

16:00: Dan Michman (Jerusalem): Commentary on the panels and final discussion

Chair: Grzegorz Rossoliński-Liebe (Berlin) and Katrin Stoll (Warsaw)


Katrin Stoll und Grzegorz Rossoliński-Liebe

Deutsches Historisches Institut Warschau und Freie Universität Berlin