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Visual Memory of the Shoah in Poland (since 1945)

The visual dimension of the memory of the Shoah in the media of national representation and historical didactics (exhibitions in museums and at memorials, catalogues, history books and press publications) since 1945 is the topic of this study. The focus of the diachronic analysis is directed towards the Polish perception and representation of the Polish-Jewish relationship during the Second World War. Before the war, Poland was the centre of European Judaism; during the war it became the scene of its elimination by the national socialists. In the People’s Republic of Poland the suffering of the Polish nation as being the “first victim of national socialism” was commemorated. Since the system change in 1989, new historiographical studies have been published and the antifascist narrative has been reassessed; the resulting analysis of the martyrological interpretation of Polish history has led to fierce public debates. Especially the polyvalent relationship of Poles and Jews during the war is a source of dispute. The study also presents the breaks as well as the continuities in the visual representation of the Shoah occurring during the time of the transformation of the interpretation of history. An integral element of this project, which is situated between visual and social studies, is to provide a methodological contribution to the analysis of visual discourses.


Hannah Maischein


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