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Journal Article

Incongruous Images: "Before, during, and after" the Holocaust

Marianne Hirsch and Leo Spitzer
History and Theory
Vol. 48, No. 4, Theme Issue 48: Photography and Historical Interpretation (Dec., 2009), pp. 9-25
Published by: Wiley for Wesleyan University
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/25621435
Page Count: 17
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Incongruous Images: "Before, during, and after" the Holocaust
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Abstract

When historians, archivists, and museologists turn to Eastern European photos from family albums or collections—for example, photos from the decades preceding the Holocaust and the early years of the Second World War—they seek visual evidence or illustrations of the past. But photographs may refuse to fit expected narratives and interpretations, revealing both more and less than we expect. Focusing on photos of Jews taken on the main avenues of Cernăuţi, Romania, before the Second World War and during the city's occupation by Fascist Romanians and their Nazi-German allies, this essay shows how a close reading of these vernacular images, both for what they show and what they are unable to show, can challenge the "before, during, and after" timeline that, in Holocaust historiography, we have come to accept as a given.

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