University of Cambridge > Talks.cam > Violence and Conflict Graduate Workshop, Faculty of History > Narratives and Authenticity: Concentration Camp Sites in The Netherlands

Narratives and Authenticity: Concentration Camp Sites in The Netherlands

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At the end of World War II, the physical landscape of the Netherlands was littered with the remnants of penal and transit camps, a reminder of the recent German occupation and the baggage of victimhood, loss, and collaboration. Dutch historians and heritage professionals formed a national narrative of the Dutch wartime experience. Three of the camps became ‘lieux de memoire’ (Nora 1989), sites of memory for remembering a national narrative of the Holocaust; these narratives are ‘national victimization,’ ‘national resistance,’ and the Jewish experience of the Holocaust. Two of the camps are largely forgotten. This dissertation uses the penal and transit camp sites in the Netherlands as a lens for looking at the Dutch national memory of the Holocaust, from the immediate aftermath of the war to the present day; from ‘retrospective glorification’ (Lagrou 2000, 2) of resistance fighters and ordinary citizens’ suffering to a narrative dominated by a recognition of the exceptionalism of the Jewish experience. This dissertation aims to shed light, within the context of ‘difficult heritage’ (Macdonald 2009) literature, on how the Dutch views of the Holocaust affected the current displays and management of concentration camp sites at Westerbork, Vught, Amersfoort, Ommen, and Schoorl.

This talk is part of the Violence and Conflict Graduate Workshop, Faculty of History series.

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