Tuesday, April 28, 2009

They Remembered

Hasia R. Diner, We Remember with Reverence and Love: American Jews and the Myth of Silence after the Holocaust, 1945-1962 (New York: NYU Press, 2009).

From the publisher's description:

"It has become an accepted truth: after World War II, American Jews chose to be silent about the mass murder of millions of their European brothers and sisters at the hands of the Nazis. Whether motivated by fear, shame, or the desire to assimilate, the Jewish community in the United States simply did not memorialize the Holocaust until the Eichmann trial and the 1967 Arab-Israeli War made it socially acceptable for them to do so.

"In a compelling work sure to draw fire from academics and pundits alike, Hasia R. Diner shows this assumption of silence to be categorically false. Uncovering a rich and incredibly varied trove of remembrances—in song, literature, liturgy, public display, political activism, and hundreds of other forms—We Remember with Reverence and Love shows that publicly memorializing those who died in the Holocaust arose from a deep and powerful element of Jewish life in postwar America. Not only does she marshal enough evidence to dismantle the idea of American Jewish "forgetfulness," she brings to life the moving and manifold ways that this widely diverse group paid tribute to the tragedy."

This book appears to be a potentially important corrective to a widely circulated assumption in academic writing about Holocaust memory.

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