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Beyond the 'Auschwitz syndrome': Holocaust historiography after the Cold War

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Abstract:

The end of the Cold war has seen an explosion in Holocaust history, and some significant changes in the main historiographical explanations. The 'return of ideology' that began displacing the 'functionalist' or 'structuralist' dominance of the 1980s remains strong. But it is being supplemented by very detailed regional and local studies, by analyses of different experiences of ghettoization in different places, and by a focus on the widespread plunder and corruption that accompanied the killing process. This enormous attention to detail reveals that the Holocaust unfolded differently in different places; but it also demonstrates the existence of an overall framework in which all the operations took place, what we might call an 'antisemitic consensus'. Simultaneously, historians have broadened the discussion of the Holocaust, situating it into a transnational or world-historical context of imperialism and colonialism. Stone outlines in broad brush some of these themes, and asks what effects they have had and will continue to have on Europeans' self-understanding in an age in which the post-war anti-fascist consensus has been dismantled while Holocaust-consciousness is officially enshrined into European identity.

Keywords: Europe; Holocaust; antisemitism; collaboration; colonialism; empire; genocide; historiography; ideology; memory; plunder

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/0031322X.2010.527443

Publication date: December 1, 2010

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