Selling the Holocaust; From Auschwitz to Schindler, How History Is Bought, Packaged and Sold

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Overview

What does the Holocaust mean at the end of the twentieth century? Tim Cole examines three of the Holocaust's most emblematic figures--Anne Frank, Adolf Eichmann and Oskar Schindler--and three of the Holocaust's most visited sites-- Auschwitz, Yad Vashem and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum--to show us how the Holocaust has been mythologized in the popular imagination. What he finds is disturbing.
Cole show us an "Auschwitz-land" where tourists have become the "ultimate ruberneckers" passing by and gazing at someone else's tragedy. He shows us a US Holocaust Museum that provides visitors with a "virtual Holocaust" experience. He shows us that, from movies to museums, the "feel good" Holocaust is being made in America. And, above all, he shows us that as the century closes the frightening reality of the Holocaust is being forgotten.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In 1997, the Bee Gees toured Anne Frank's house in Amsterdam, along with 700,000 other bubble-gum chewing, minicam-clutching voyeurs. A man was spotted at Auschwitz wearing, with supreme irony, a Megadeth T-shirt. Gifted with a sensitive understanding of the Holocaust, Cole, history professor at the University of Bristol, sets out to parse the shifting myths created from the historical event of the Holocaust, especially its morphing into a ubiquitous, feel-good affirmation of America's core values. In seeking to understand the subtle implications of marketing remembrance, Cole focuses on three figures--Anne Frank, Adolph Eichmann and Oskar Schindler--and three sites--Auschwitz, Yad Vashem (Israel's Holocaust museum in Jerusalem) and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. What does it mean when Schindler's List becomes a de facto primary historical text, or when the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (where Cole is a visiting fellow) is just one more item on an itinerary that includes the peep show thrills of the Texas Book Depository and Graceland? At a time when tourists flock to the Spielberg film location rather than to the actual ghetto, argues Cole, the Holocaust has been turned into a sort of virtual history. Cole's book makes an excellent complement to Peter Novick's superb The Holocaust in American Life (Forecasts, May 3), with which it shares an informed wariness about the perils of historical representation. (Sept.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A thoughtful and brave study of how the Holocaust has become an overly central myth and too commercialized for its own effectiveness. Cole is a fellow at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum and is well positioned to know that there is no business like Shoah (Holocaust) business. The book grew from lectures at the University of Bristol in England, whence its youthful brazenness to criticize the sacrosanct. Holocaustism as an industry is shown to dwarf the budget of other, especially educational needs in the American Jewish community. The three people whom the first chapters are named for reflect Cole's vision of Holocaust history. First is Anne Frank, the most famous child and victim in our century. In 1947, long before her book, Broadway show, and Amsterdam attic became global sensations, the diary's modest popularity reflected the Jewish and gentile mood that the unspeakable tragedy was best not spoken about. Even in Israel, where the Holocaust became a flag of victimhood and cause for national survival, the yet unnamed calamity was associated with the powerless Diaspora past and neglected—until the capture and trial of Adolf Eichmann (Cole's second chapter). Not mere revenge, this "trial was about reawakening a concern with the Holocaust both inside and outside the country." So successful was exhuming the Holocaust from buried memory that the next chapter, "Oskar Schindler," shows how Hollywood turned planet Auschwitz into a well known but more benign place. The last three chapters are named for places, "Auschwitz," "Yad Vashem," and "The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum," where Cole scores salient points contrasting the sites of genocide (now with tourist cafeteria), the Israelimuseum (emphasizing partisans and resistance), and the "theme-park" $168-million-dollar facility in Washington, D.C. (featuring multimedia experiences and nondenominational tolerance). Cole dares to write "that an element of voyeurism is central to ‘Holocaust tourism.' " If the Holocaust has assumed our century's moral crown, this book dares to challenge the emperor's clothes.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780415925815
  • Publisher: Taylor & Francis, Inc.
  • Publication date: 8/28/1999
  • Pages: 240
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.80 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Prologue: The Rise (and Fall?) of the Myth of the 'Holocaust' 1
Pt. I People
1 Anne Frank 23
2 Adolf Eichmann 47
3 Oskar Schindler 73
Pt. II Places
4 Auschwitz 97
5 Yad Vashem 121
6 The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Washington, DC 146
Epilogue 172
Notes 189
Select Bibliography 206
Index 210
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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 24, 2006

    Man's Search for Meaning?

    I recommend this book with reservations. The author does a splendid job of tracing the history of the use of The Holocaust in symbolic form. As he says, he writes not of the details of The Holocaust, per se, but of how the tragedy is portrayed in the media. I learned a great deal about the evolution of Holocaust presentation, and for that reason I recommend this work. On the other hand, the author seems to criticize movie directors and museums for their attempts to make meaning of The Holocaust. After taking Spielberg to task for presenting a watered-down version of Holocaust horror ('I wanted to shout, it was worse than that!' the author exclaims), he criticizes the US Holocaust memorial and Museum for its graphic videos-likening them to peep shows. It is true that we all must be careful in how we construct meaning of this terrible event in human history, but to focus on the gruesome details with no attempt to search for meaning would indeed be pornographic.

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