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Crises of memory and the Second World War by Susan Rubin Suleiman

By Susan Rubin Suleiman

How we view ourselves and the way we want to be noticeable via others can't be separated from the tales we inform approximately our prior. during this feel all reminiscence is in difficulty, torn among conflicting causes of old mirrored image, political expediency, and private or collective mind's eye. In Crises of reminiscence and the second one global warfare, Susan Suleiman conducts a profound exploration of contested terrain, the place person thoughts converge with public remembrance of annoying occasions. Suleiman is considered one of a handful of students who've formed the interdisciplinary examine of reminiscence, with its similar ideas of trauma, testimony, forgetting, and forgiveness. during this publication she argues that thoughts of worldwide warfare II, whereas nationally particular, go beyond nationwide limitations, due not just to the worldwide nature of the warfare but in addition to the more and more international presence of the Holocaust as a domain of collective reminiscence. one of the works she discusses are Jean-Paul Sartre’s essays at the profession and Resistance in France; Marcel Ophuls’ leading edge documentary on Klaus Barbie, attempted for crimes opposed to humanity; Istv?n Szab?’s movie Sunshine, a chronicle of Jewish id in critical Europe; literary memoirs by way of Jorge Semprun and Elie Wiesel; and experimental writing through baby survivors of the Holocaust.

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They were accused, by a journalist who was about to release a book on the subject, of having falsified certain crucial aspects of their story. The long-forgotten insinuations of Barbie’s lawyer, concerning Raymond Aubrac’s role in Moulin’s arrest, were suddenly revived. Just as France was getting ready for the Papon trial, which would once again point to the ignominies of Vichy toward the Jews, the Aubrac Affair churned up troubled memories of the Resistance. 20 In fact, these categories are applicable to all events of collective significance, including most recently the American catastrophe of September 11.

Then there is the ambiguity of one’s feelings at seeing Allied planes bomb French cities: “Not the least of our troubles was that temptation to hate you” (F 15; S 33). Further was the ambiguity of a Resistance whose value was merely symbolic: “Without [the Resistance], the English would have won the war; with it, they would have lost it if they were due to lose it. Its chief value, in our eyes, was that of a symbol” (F 14; S 30). Finally was the ambiguity of living in a situation where, whatever one did, it was impossible not to be “in complicity with the occupant,” because every activity that was needed to maintain a minimum of social and economic organization benefited not only the French population but also the enemy “which lived in symbiosis with us” (F 16; S 36).

17 In terms of Burrin’s categories, Sartre in this essay functions as the apologist of accommodation. ” (F12; S24). At the same time, however—and this is the brilliant rhetorical move of his essay—he 26 Crises of Memory and the Second World War suggests that the “accommodators” resisted in their hearts, and that even the “true Resisters” were forced to participate in accommodation as long as they lived in France. This was a comforting message for the majority, one that had the added advantage of glossing over the very real political and ideological divisions that had existed in France virtually since the French Revolution and certainly throughout the interwar period and beyond.

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