As living memories of the Holocaust die out with the generation that witnessed the event, practitioners of memory work have focused on the transmission of memory to the next generations. Recent Holocaust memorialisation, in the form of literature, museums, memorials and monuments, must make Holocaust memory meaningful for those born after the event. With this in mind, the arts of Holocaust memorialisation often provoke a sense of secondary memory or vicarious witnessing, an attempt to experience Holocaust memory or even trauma by proxy – in short, the remembrance of things not witnessed.
Recent academic theories of Holocaust memory and trauma are correspondent with these current memorial practices. The problem with this theoretical paradigm is that it tends to lose sight of the specificity of particular acts of remembering, the identities formed in relation to the remembrance of past events, and the ethical and political questions raised by those acts and identifications. This book identifies the ethical implications of such memory work where it becomes appropriative and universalising by scrutinizing theoretical approaches to the work of W.G. Sebald and Bernhard Schlink, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, and the museum and memorial architecture of Daniel Libeskind and Peter Eisenman, and generates a series of more self-reflexive readings of such representations of the Holocaust.