Access

You are not currently logged in.

Access JSTOR through your library or other institution:

login

Log in through your institution.

Journal Article

Choosing Not to Look: Representation, Repatriation, and Holocaust Atrocity Photography

Susan A. Crane
History and Theory
Vol. 47, No. 3 (Oct., 2008), pp. 309-330
Published by: Wiley for Wesleyan University
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/25478766
Page Count: 22

You can always find the topics here!

Topics: Holocaust, Photographs, Photography, Images, Visual fixation, Memory, Nazism, Collective memory, Persona, Violence
Were these topics helpful?
See something inaccurate? Let us know!

Select the topics that are inaccurate.

Cancel
  • Subscribe ($19.50)
  • Add to My Lists
  • Cite this Item
Choosing Not to Look: Representation, Repatriation, and Holocaust Atrocity Photography
Preview not available

Abstract

This essay considers, from ethical and historical-critical perspectives, alternatives to unconditional public access to Holocaust atrocity photographs. Photographic images have become the common coin of public awareness and historical information about the Holocaust. For the generations immediately following the genocide, atrocity photos and images of Nazi crimes served as vital testimony. For succeeding generations, however, access to certain "recirculated" images (Barbie Zelizer) has created a sense of familiarity with the Holocaust and with the National Socialist era that may prevent, rather than facilitate, engagement with the historical subject, particularly for students. Few of the victims of the Shoah pictured in either the best known or the least circulated images were willing subjects. As such, the bulk of Holocaust and National Socialist photography should perhaps fall under the same category as the results of Nazi medical experiments: they have been rendered inadmissible because they are ethically compromised materials, made without the participants' consent. While I am not advocating the wholesale destruction of Holocaust photographs, I will suggest that removing them from view or "repatriating" them might serve Holocaust memory better than their reduction to atrocious objects of banal attention. Just as the Native American Grave Protection and Repatriation Act of 1990 provided a mechanism for the reclassification of human remains, from ethnographic to spiritually sacred artifacts, we should consider what a similar reclassification of Holocaust photographs could offer. Have Holocaust atrocity photographs reached the limits of their usefulness as testimony?

Page Thumbnails

  • Thumbnail: Page 
[309]
    [309]
  • Thumbnail: Page 
310
    310
  • Thumbnail: Page 
311
    311
  • Thumbnail: Page 
312
    312
  • Thumbnail: Page 
313
    313
  • Thumbnail: Page 
314
    314
  • Thumbnail: Page 
315
    315
  • Thumbnail: Page 
316
    316
  • Thumbnail: Page 
317
    317
  • Thumbnail: Page 
318
    318
  • Thumbnail: Page 
319
    319
  • Thumbnail: Page 
320
    320
  • Thumbnail: Page 
321
    321
  • Thumbnail: Page 
322
    322
  • Thumbnail: Page 
323
    323
  • Thumbnail: Page 
324
    324
  • Thumbnail: Page 
325
    325
  • Thumbnail: Page 
326
    326
  • Thumbnail: Page 
327
    327
  • Thumbnail: Page 
328
    328
  • Thumbnail: Page 
329
    329
  • Thumbnail: Page 
330
    330