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Constructing Memory

Architectural Narratives of Holocaust Museums

Stephanie Rotem

This book reveals the critical role of architecture in the assimilation of the ideologies and values conveyed at Holocaust museums around the world. Through the architectural analysis of sixteen museums, social, cultural and political agendas will be unfolded.
While the distance in time and place raises the need to create innovative forms of display to reach an audience removed from the Holocaust, the degree to which this can be done by the museums’ exhibits alone is limited. This book shows that architecture, as an abstract form of expression, plays a major role in the conception of Holocaust museums. By conveying values that cannot otherwise be expressed, the museums’ architecture becomes integral to its narrative and, through it, to the construction of collective memories of the Holocaust.

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Introduction Constructing a Collective Memory of the Holocaust . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9 I From Ashes to Life: Holocaust Museums in Israel . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25 Chapter 1 Yad Vashem and the Ghetto Fighters’ House Museum: The Founding Years . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 31 1.1 “Even unto them will I give in mine house and within my walls a place and a name…” – Establishing Yad Vashem . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 31 1.2 “A House for Generations to Come” – Establishing the Ghetto Fighters’ House Museum . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 40 Chapter 2 Yad Layeled: A Memorial to the Children . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 51 2.1 Yad Layeled: A Monument at Yad Vashem . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 51 2.2 Yad Layeled: A Childrens’ Museum at the Ghetto Fighters’ House . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 54 Chapter 3 Passing Down the Legacy: Renovating and Remodeling . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 59 3.1 “I will put my breath into you and you shall live again, and I will set you upon your own soil…” – The New Museum at Yad Vashem . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 60 3.2 Renovations at the Ghetto Fighters’ House . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 68 Chapter 4 Diverse Holocaust Museums in Israel . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 79 II You Are My Witnesses (Isaiah 43:10): Holocaust Museums in the United States . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 89 Chapter 5 The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 93 Chapter 6 Subsequent American Holocaust Museums . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 107 8III The Memory Void: Holocaust Museums in Europe . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 137 Chapter 7 A Holocaust Museum in Berlin . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 141 Chapter 8 A Holocaust Memorial in Berlin . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 157 Chapter 9 Post-Communist Holocaust Museums: Budapest and Warsaw . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 165 9.1 “From Deprivation of Rights to Genocide”: The Holocaust Memorial Center in Budapest . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 165 9.2 “Parting the Red Sea”: The Museum of the History of Polish Jewry . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 172 Concluding...

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