Trauma and holocaust video testimony : the intersection of history, memory, and judgment in the interview process

Brown, Adam 2009, Trauma and holocaust video testimony : the intersection of history, memory, and judgment in the interview process, Traumatology, vol. 15, no. 4, pp. 44-54.

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Title Trauma and holocaust video testimony : the intersection of history, memory, and judgment in the interview process
Author(s) Brown, Adam
Journal name Traumatology
Volume number 15
Issue number 4
Start page 44
End page 54
Total pages 11
Publisher Sage Publications, Inc.
Place of publication Thousand Oaks, Calif.
Publication date 2009-12
ISSN 1085-9373
Keyword(s) Holocaust
video testimonies
privileged Jews
Primo Levi
Summary This article analyzes video testimonies recorded at the Jewish Holocaust Museum and Research Centre in Melbourne,Australia, which address the highly complex and sensitive issue of “privileged” Jews. The so-called privileged Jews include prisoners in the Nazi-operated camps and ghettos who held positions that gave them access to material and other benefits, while compelling them to act in ways that have been judged detrimental to fellow inmates. Although the issue of “privileged” Jews has been largely neglected, it relates to a crucial facet of the Holocaust and has vast implications for its aftermath. The ethical dilemmas facing these victims may be closely linked to what Lawrence Langer has termed choiceless choices, which challenge conventional notions of “judgment” and “responsibility.” This problem is also the primary subject of Auschwitz survivor Primo Levi’s essay titled “The Grey Zone,” which is arguably the most influential essay ever written on the Holocaust. Levi argues that one should abstain from judging individuals who confronted such extreme circumstances, positioning prisoners with “privileged” positions at the threshold of representation and understanding. However, moral evaluations of “privileged” Jews have a strong impact on Holocaust testimonies, whether these were constructed during the war or recorded long after the survivors’ experiences. The examples of video testimonies explored in this article reveal that this is particularly the case when interviewees are former “privileged” Jews and interviewers are themselves Holocaust survivors. The article argues that when confronted with such an emotionally and morally fraught issue, judgment may itself be seen as a “limit of representation.”

Language eng
Field of Research 200212 Screen and Media Culture
Socio Economic Objective 950504 Understanding Europe's Past
HERDC Research category C1.1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal
Copyright notice ©2009, The Author(s)
Persistent URL http://hdl.handle.net/10536/DRO/DU:30032598

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