Remembering Across the Iron Curtain. The Emergence of Holocaust Memory in the Cold War Era

Stephan Stach's picture
September 2, 2018 to September 4, 2018
United Kingdom
Subject Fields: 
Cultural History / Studies, Eastern Europe History / Studies, Holocaust, Genocide, and Memory Studies, Jewish History / Studies, Modern European History / Studies


Remembering Across the Iron Curtain. The Emergence of Holocaust Memory in the Cold War Era

A Joint Conference of the Institute for the Public Understanding of the Past, University of York and the Institute of Contemporary History (ÚSD), Czech Academy of Sciences in co-operation with the Aleksander Brückner Center for Polish Studies, Halle/Germany, September 2-4, 2018.

The Cold War influenced how people, societies and states dealt with and understood the Holocaust and its aftereffects. Challenging previous perceptions of the West as the democratic “Free World” that embraced commemoration and the East as totalitarian and repressive, the papers in this conference will examine how political interests influenced commemoration in both East and West. At the same time speakers will show how individual actors carved out space to remember the Holocaust in ways that stood at odds with the dominant narratives. Examining communal, individuals and state efforts, from the Soviet Union to the US, from Hungary to France, this conference will provide opportunities to re-evaluate the commonalities, differences and entanglements between Eastern and Western memory of the Holocaust.


Sunday, 2 September 2018
Venue: Black Box Theatre, University of York

19:00 Opening Event
David Shneer (University of Colorado, Boulder)
Art is My Weapon: The Radical Musical Life of Lin Jaldati

Monday, 3 September 2018
Venue: Bowland Auditorium, Berrick Saul Building, University of York

9:15 – 9:45 Welcome
Geoff Cubitt (PUP, University of York)
Stephan Stach (ÚSD, CAS Prague)
Paulina Gulińska-Jurgiel (Aleksander Brückner Center Halle)

9:45 – 10:15 Introduction
Anna Koch (FMS, University of York)
Stephan Stach (ÚSD, CAS Prague)

10:15 – 10:45 Coffee Break

10:45 – 12:15 Panel 1: Jewish Efforts to Remember the Shoah in East and West
Arkadi Zeltser (Yad Vashem, Jerusalem): The Cold War and Memorialization of the Holocaust in the USSR
Eli Lederhendler (The Hebrew University of Jerusalem) The Politics of Memory and the Shadow of the Holocaust in America in the Cold War Era
Simon Perego (University Paris-Sorbonne) “The Communist Schism in Jewish Life.” Transnational Politics and Holocaust Commemorations among Parisian Jews during the Cold War, until the end of the 1960s
Chair: Nadège Ragaru (CERI, Sciences Po, Paris)

12:15 – 13:15 Lunch Break

13:15 – 14:45 Panel 2: Remembering Perpetrators and Rescuers Across the Iron Curtain
Kai Struve (Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg): The Case of Theodor Oberländer in 1959/60 – an Entangled History of Propaganda, Politics, and Holocaust Memory in East and West
Siobhan Hyland (University of Northampton): Searchlight – Campaigning against Nazi Perpetrators in Britain
Manja Herrmann (Selma Stern Center for Jewish Studies Berlin-Brandenburg): Transnational Holocaust Memory and the Case of Rescue: Kurt R. Grossmann and the Early Berlin Initiative Unsung Heroes (1958–1966)
Chair: Jeffrey Herf (University of Maryland, College Park)

14:45 – 15:15 Coffee break

15:15 – 16:30 Panel 3: Memory staged in the Courtroom
Matthew Turner (Deakin University, Australia / IfZ München): Cold War Courtroom: Politicising the Holocaust in the Frankfurt Auschwitz Trial, (1963-­1965)
Vanessa Voisin (CERCEC, Paris): From the courthouse to the screen: Holocaust history made memory in Cold War USSR
Chair: Paulina Gulińska-Jurgiel (Aleksander Brückner Center, Halle)

17:00 Roundtable Discussion: How did Cold War Shape our Understanding of the Holocaust?

Discutants: Jeffrey Herf (University of Maryland, College Park),  Nadège Ragaru (CERI, Sciences Po, Paris), David Shneer (University of Colorado, Boulder), Isabel Wollaston (University of Birmingham)
Moderation: Anna Koch (University of York)

Tuesday, 4 September 2018
Venue: Bowland Auditorium, Berrick Saul Building, University of York

9:00 – 10:30 Panel 4: Scholarship and Holocaust Memory
Olof Bortz (Stockholm University):  Raul Hilberg, the Cold War and the history of the Holocaust
Stefan Troebst (Leipzig University, Germany): Skopje vs. Sofia – Contrasting Memories on Bulgaria and the Holocaust
Daniela R. P. Weiner (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill) Educational Entanglements: East and West German History Textbooks’ Narratives about the Holocaust and the Second World War
Chair: Geoff Cubitt (IPUP, University of York)

10.30 – 11:00 Coffee break

11:00 – 12:30 Panel 5: Artists and intellectuals’ efforts to shape Memory
Jenny Watson (University of Sheffield) ‘No gas chambers. No crematoria.’:  Romanian-German authors of the 1970s-80s and the insufficiency of international memory discourse
Irina Tcherneva (CERCEC, Paris) The arts judge crimes against humanity. Social and political usages of the painting The Last Way by Yosef Kuzkovski in Soviet Latvia (1944-1970)
Anna Pollmann (Hebrew University of Jerusalem): Atrocities without their own reality. Günther Anders and Holocaust reception in the West German Left
Chair: Hugo Service (University of York)

12:30 – 13:30 Lunch break

13:30 – 15:00 Panel 6: Memory and Morality
Jonathan Kaplan (Freie Universität Berlin): Ambassadors of Memory: The Struggle of guilt and Responsibility in the GDR
Máté Zombory (Centre for Social Sciences, Hungarian Academy of Sciences) Moral Universalism in the East: Holocaust and memory in Zoltán Fábri’s film Late Season (1966)
Marta Zawodna-Stephan (Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznań) Let the dead serve the living. Dead body politics in the former Nazi camps on both sides of the Iron Curtain
Chair: Shaul Mitelpunkt (University of York)

15:15 – 16:15 Closing Remarks
Anna Koch (FMS, University of York), Stephan Stach (ÚSD, CAS Prague)

16:15 Reception

Registration: Please register your interest with Caroline Mead,



The conference is made possible thanks to generous funding from the European Association for Jewish Studies, the Fondation pour la Mémoire de la Shoah, the Strategy AV21 programme of the Czech Academy of Sciences, the Czech Science Foundation and the University of York.


Contact Info: 

Anna Koch, Fondation pour la Mémoire de la Shoah/Department of History, University of York (

Stephan Stach Institute of Contemporary History (ÚSD), Czech Academy of Science, Prague (