Memory and Complicity: Migrations of Holocaust Remembrance

By Debarati Sanyal | Go to book overview

THREE
Auschwitz as Allegory: From Night and Fog to Guantánamo Bay

We are caught in a knot of history where complicity is absolute.

— ALBERT CAMUS, Lettres à un ami allemand

What does it mean for the memory of atrocity to emerge from within the shadow of complicity, especially when it is the memory of others, of those who perished in the camps? And what happens when the particularity of that memory is turned into a figure for other causes, when those who are summoned to remember are torn between the competing demands of testimony and politics? France’s postwar aesthetics of complicity were shaped by the Nazi occupation and its gray zones, yet its practitioners also sought to fashion a future- oriented politics of remembrance. As the preceding chapters suggest, figures such as allegory conveyed unexpected proximities between then and now, here and there, but also between us and them or victims and perpetrators, awakening a recognition of ongoing regimes of terror and mindless forms of complicity. Camus conveyed this historical knot of complicity by entangling disparate memories of violence, as in the palimpsestic camp of The Fall; his narrative gray zones contaminated “us, children of the mid- century” with its coercive

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