History Writing as Reconstruction

Laura Jockusch

in Collect and Record!

Published in print September 2012 | ISBN: 9780199764556
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780199979578 | DOI:
History Writing as Reconstruction

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The conclusion examines similarities and differences among the featured commissions and documentation centers and evaluates their importance for Holocaust studies. It argues that part of the reason why the early postwar documentation initiatives did not receive the attention of historians who were not survivors themselves was that their methods at the time were anathema to the rules of academic history writing which came to dominate the study of the Holocaust. For decades, the latter remained perpetrator-focused and regime-centered, taking a “top-down” perspective on the Jewish catastrophe. By contrast, the survivors’ popular and interdisciplinary approach relied on testimony and memory and focused on writing the history of everyday life and death of European Jews under Nazi rule from the bottom up. Only in the past two decades did similar approaches enter the academic study of the Holocaust and historians begin to consider both victim and perpetrator source to write an integrated history of the Holocaust.

Keywords: academic history writing; bottom-up perspective; history of everyday life; interdisciplinary; memory; perpetrator-focused; regime-centered; testimony; top-down perspective

Chapter.  9969 words. 

Subjects: Modern History (1700 to 1945)

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