Confronting 'choiceless choices' in Holocaust videotestimonies : judgement, 'privileged' Jews, and the role of the interviewer

Brown, Adam 2010, Confronting 'choiceless choices' in Holocaust videotestimonies : judgement, 'privileged' Jews, and the role of the interviewer, Continuum : journal of media and cultural studies, vol. 24, no. 1, Special Issue : Interrogating Trauma : Arts & Media Responses to Collective Suffering, pp. 79-90.

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Title Confronting 'choiceless choices' in Holocaust videotestimonies : judgement, 'privileged' Jews, and the role of the interviewer
Author(s) Brown, Adam
Journal name Continuum : journal of media and cultural studies
Volume number 24
Issue number 1
Season Special Issue : Interrogating Trauma : Arts & Media Responses to Collective Suffering
Start page 79
End page 90
Total pages 12
Publisher Routledge
Place of publication Melbourne, Vic.
Publication date 2010-02
ISSN 1030-4312
1469-3666
Summary 'Privileged' Jews include those prisoners in the camps and ghettos who held positions which gave them access to material and other benefits. Subject to extreme levels of coercion, these victims were compelled to act in ways that have been judged as both self-serving and harmful to fellow inmates. Such situations, which exemplify what influential theorist Lawrence Langer terms 'choiceless choices', are the chief concern of Primo Levi's paradigmatic essay on the 'grey zone'. In light of these key conceptualizations of the ethical dilemmas of Holocaust victims, the paper analyses the representation of 'privileged' Jews in several videotestimonies recorded at the Jewish Holocaust Museum and Research Centre (JHMRC) in Melbourne, Australia. It will be shown that judgements of victims in extremis cause considerable problems for attempts to testify to the complex situations and experiences of 'privileged' Jews. The role of the interviewer is a crucial factor in this, particularly when interviewers are themselves Holocaust survivors. The paper reveals that while it might be argued that moral evaluations of 'privileged' Jews should be suspended, judgements are often imposed on Holocaust testimonies in various ways and have a significant impact on their content.
Notes Online publication date 28 January 2010. Book chapter also 2011 published in 'Interrogating Trauma: Collective Suffering in Global Arts and Media' by Routledge
Language eng
Field of Research 200212 Screen and Media Culture
Socio Economic Objective 950504 Understanding Europe's Past
HERDC Research category C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal
Copyright notice ©2010, Taylor & Francis
Persistent URL http://hdl.handle.net/10536/DRO/DU:30032597

Document type: Journal Article
Collection: School of Communication and Creative Arts
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