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Twentieth Century Wars in European Memory

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Edited By Jozef Niznik

In various European countries the two world wars are remembered in very different ways, although everywhere one can find monuments which serve as material objectification of the memory of war. However, such objectifications not only determine certain patterns of remembrance and a specific perception of the past: they also contribute to local and/or national identity and create the basis for attitudes toward the other participants of war. As it happens, instruments of memory live their own life and the meanings they attach to particular events may be changed by historical and political processes. The question remaining in the background of this publication is whether we can «make Europeans» without European collective memory transgressing national perspectives. The memory of war, which inevitably shows the overall absurdity and tragedy of war no matter where and against whom fought, may be the primary candidate for such Europeanization.

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PART II Visualizing memory

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War, Memory and Photographic Traces Julia Winckler Summary: An old leather-suitcase belonging to my great uncle, Hugo Hecker, which I found in the attic of my great-aunt’s house, formed the starting point for the photographic project Traces. This suitcase had witnessed Hugo’s escape, in the summer of 1939, from Vienna to England. Most of Hugo’s family perished in the Holocaust. Only two brothers and two nieces survived, separated forever. In his lifetime, Hugo, traumatized by the war, had remained silent about the loss of his family. I began this project as a means of preventing the memory of the Hecker family becoming erased from history. This chapter introduces the project and discusses how I re-constructed the few remaining traces into a three-part series: Witnessing attempts to preserve the family’s memory by enlarging and reprojecting the only two photographs that survived of the Hecker family; Searching captures my journey to Poland to find traces of their lives there, Preserving holds on to the few inherited objects and documents for their potential to provide testimony as to what happened to the Hecker family and countless others that shared their fate. The chapter concludes with the brief introduction to “Experimental Archaeology: Within and Beyond the Archive”, a photography class I have been teaching for many years at the University of Brighton, UK. This class encourages students to develop their own historical awareness alongside their visual practice so that they may respond to archival images and reinscribe them with meaning both in the present,...

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