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The Black Hole of Memory: French Mnemotechniques in the Erasure of the Holocaust

Michael Dorland


“Never forget” is one of the key injunctions uttered by which to remember the Holocaust. But the call to memory ran afoul of various debates among French philosophers and historians in the context of the post-World War II “memory wars.” France is a particularly problematic site for the urgency of remembering as French postwar memory was triply traumatized by its own status as a defeated power, its Vichyite collaboration with the Nazis, and the erasure of its role in the extermination of French and mostly of foreign refugee Jews. This essay examines the tactics of memory-struggle up to the summer of 2012, the 70th anniversary of the 1942 Vel d’Hiv roundup.

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