AJS Dissertation Completion Fellow 2020/21 Miriam Schulz looks at Soviet Yiddish cultural agents who operated within the rather destructive post-Stalinist memory regime in which they found themselves and created their own vernacular Holocaust memory in Soviet situ. She will showcase this vernacular Holocaust memory by means of several distinct examples, looking primarily at the interplay of literature and Holocaust monuments, and the role of Yiddish within them.
Since antiquity, Sophocles’ Antigone epitomizes both the enormous political significance of top-down orchestration and controlling of public mourning in the wake of war for specific groups and the enduring fascination with heroic acts that deliberately go against the sovereign regulations of this exclusive privilege (Butler, 2009, 38–39). In a way, the historiography of Holocaust memory in the Soviet Union has followed Sophocles’ script in that an alleged complete top-down silencing was juxtaposed to Antigonean acts of resistance by Soviet Jewish subjects whose understandable desire to mourn for Holocaust victims was paired with the urge to leave the Soviet Union for the sake of grieving in “freedom.”
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