The End of the Holocaust

  • Review
By – August 30, 2011

Alvin Rosen­feld brings a wealth of infor­ma­tion to this high­ly read­able, intel­li­gent­ly argued account of how the Holo­caust is being con­veyed and dis­tort­ed to mod­ern day audi­ences. Rosen­feld is per­fect­ly placed to dis­cuss this top­ic as a 40 year vet­er­an of research into the Holo­caust and lit­er­a­ture and as the direc­tor of Indi­ana University’s Insti­tute for the Study of Con­tem­po­rary Antisemitism.

The author notes that the Nazi geno­cide of the Jews will not soon be for­got­ten, but how it is retained in mem­o­ry and trans­mit­ted depends over­whelm­ing­ly on what we choose to recov­er from the past.” He high­lights many aspects of how the Holo­caust has been trans­mit­ted to mass cul­ture since 1945. One chap­ter illus­trates that there has been an increas­ing trend to uni­ver­sal­ize the Holo­caust, remov­ing its unique­ness and plac­ing it along­side geno­cide stud­ies and human rights. He also artic­u­lates how the increas­ing use of the word holo­caust’ to describe all sorts of things, such as abor­tion, degrades the actu­al Holo­caust. Sev­er­al chap­ters high­light the impor­tance of authors Elie Wiesel, Pri­mo Levi, and Jean Amery in com­mu­ni­cat­ing their own expe­ri­ences as sur­vivors to the public.

One of Rosenfeld’s most inter­est­ing dis­cus­sions cen­ters on the manip­u­la­tion of Anne Frank’s diary. Because her father, Otto, want­ed her lega­cy to empha­size hope, peace and the advance­ment of tol­er­ance,” the diary was fash­ioned as a more uni­ver­sal type” and Anne’s Jew­ish­ness deracinated.

Rosenfeld’s book, writ­ten to appeal both to gen­er­al and schol­ar­ly read­ers, is an impor­tant and orig­i­nal con­tri­bu­tion to dis­cus­sions on how the Holo­caust is being taught and con­veyed to peo­ple today. Notes.

Seth J. Frantz­man received his Ph.D. from the Hebrew Uni­ver­si­ty of Jerusalem where he cur­rent­ly holds a Post-Doc­tor­al Fel­low­ship. He is a colum­nist for the Jerusalem Post and Fel­low at the Jerusalem Insti­tute of Mar­ket Studies.

Discussion Questions