We Remember with Reverence and Love: American Jews and the Myth of Silence after the Holocaust, 1945-1962

By Hasia R. Diner | Go to book overview

Conclusion
The Corruption of History, the Betrayal of Memory

AMERICAN JEWS IN the years from the end of World War II into the early 1960s had much to say about the European Jewish catastrophe, doing so in a multiplicity of ways. Whether in liturgy or journalism, in pedagogy or sermons, in staged ceremonies or in the deliberations of their organizational meetings and the discussions of their youth groups—in all of these, the tragic fate of European Jewry coursed prominently through their public culture. It moved them, frightened and angered them. It stirred them to action, and they consistently designated times, places, and ways to say so.

They reflected on the horrific set of events, the Holocaust, to remember it for its own sake and to teach and learn more about the fate of its victims, with whom they identified, referring to them as “we,” “our,” and “us.” They incorporated into their communal cultures images, words, names, and references to the Jewish catastrophe.

The Jews of America in the postwar years had practical reasons not to consign the tragic events into obscurity. Instead, they held up to public gaze images of the concentration camps, gas chambers, and ghettoes, pictures, both metaphoric and graphic, of numbers tattooed into Jewish flesh, of families ripped asunder, lives destroyed, and yet a hopeful “saving remnant.” They did this in order to encourage the broad public to help them in aiding survivors, exposing perpetrators, and winning support for the State of Israel, as well as advancing liberal political causes they supported. Because they believed that practical and necessary results would flow from their telling of the tragedy of the six million to the American public at large, they did not repress or suppress it.

Within the Jewish community, references to the destruction of European Jewish culture, the liquidation of the great centers of Jewish learning, and the violent deaths of the women and men who had been the source of Jewish creativity served a decidedly communal purpose, as the leaders of

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We Remember with Reverence and Love: American Jews and the Myth of Silence after the Holocaust, 1945-1962
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • Introduction - Deeds and Words 1
  • 1: Fitting Memorials 18
  • 2: Telling the World 86
  • 3: The Saving Remnant 150
  • 4: Germany on Their Minds 216
  • 5: Wrestling with the Postwar World 266
  • 6: Facing the Jewish Future 321
  • Conclusion - The Corruption of History, the Betrayal of Memory 365
  • Notes 391
  • Bibliography 465
  • Index 495
  • About the Author 529
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