Conference Agenda

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Session Overview
Session A5 2: Approaching Holocaust in the Digital Age
Friday, 23/July/2021:
12:00pm - 1:30pm

Session Chair: Marc Sherman, Institute on the Holocaust and Genocide, Jerusalem, Israel
Location: Room 2


Dark Tourism, Social Media & Holocaust: Remembrance or Disrespect?

Khushboo Chauhan

Jindal Global Law School, O.P. Jindal Global University, Sonipat, India

Dark Tourism is “the act of travel to sites associated with death, suffering and the seemingly macabre”. The Holocaust is considered as a benchmark of evil and unsurprisingly even after decades of it’s occurrence millions of people around the world visit sites related to it every year. This has lead to the rise of “dark tourism”, whereby guides, tour operators, museums, etc. are earning a lot of money. The question that arises is that does this tourism help us in understanding not only the gravity of the Holocaust but also bring some sensitization to it's causes or has it just become one more money minting tool that only aims at economic gains by exploiting our fascination with such dastardly crimes?

Further, the digital era has not left even the Holocaust untouched by social media anymore. Due to millions of dark tourists visiting these memorial sites, numerous photographs, videos, and selfies are taken every year. Unsurprisingly, complicating the matter is the use of social media platforms such as Instagram, TikTok, Facebook, etc., filled regularly with posts of various memorial sites thereby resulting in the debate as to whether these platforms are being used for remembrance or for disrespecting the memories of the Holocaust victims?

Hence, the paper aims to firstly, understand the term dark tourism, it’s definition, and the motivation behind tourists while planning to travel to the Holocaust sites. Secondly, the paper will evaluate whether this dark tourism has resulted in becoming a tool for remembrance of the Holocaust or has it turned it into a mere business? Lastly, it aims to analyse the pros and cons of the use of social media in relation to dark tourism and the Holocaust.

The obvious, in non obvious vantage point. Drone imagery for better interpretation and education of Trebinka, Sobibór and Bełzec.

Tomasz Cebulski

Tomasz Cebulski, Poland, Jagiellonian University Cracow

Drones offer new vantage point in understanding and narrating historic and contemporary genocide sites. After two decades of researching, conducting genealogy projects and interpreting Holocaust memorials the 2020 brough me a drone pilot license to give those sites of memory a new vantage point.

I have produced 6 historic films on Holocaust sites. 4 of those personalized with specific family genealogy information on the victims fate. I have hours of footage of Treblinka to be edited and plan for January 2021 a visit to the new exhibit in Sobibor and Belzec. In case of Sobibor I will be publishing in late February an academic review of the new Museum and monument opened there in November 2020.

I am now producing a film on the liberation of on of the largest sub-camps of Auschwitz called Furstengrube. I have conducted the land surveys and collected oral testimonies and historic pictures to have those contrasted with the 2021 remnants of camp fences and towers used now as fencing of a construction material depot. The film will be aired on January 27th , so anniversary on Auschwitz liberation. I was following the story of prisoners massacre that was conducted at the site on January 27th, 1945 in which a pianist and composer Gideon Klein was murdered. Through analyzing testimonies, survivors drown camp maps, drone footage and land surveying I was successful in finding the location of a mass grave of inmates.

My drone historic video project is called Sky Heritage Pictures and I hope to develop it into a useful tool for finding mass graves, improved site documentation and new visual perspective on sites which at times seem to be obvious.

Revisiting Holocaust in the Age of Digital OTT Platform: The representations of atrocities and perpetrators in cinemas made available in Netflix

Md Nazmul Arefin

University of Dhaka, Bangladesh, People's Republic of

How the “story of genocide” is imaged, constructed, and disseminated through cinemas cannot be overlooked for many critical reasons. In genocide studies, cinema is seldom considered as an important substance. In the age of digital OTT (Over the top) streaming platforms, many reports show that, youth, adults, and even children are being impacted by the “Netflix Effect” regarding opinion formation on social reality and history. Hence, it is increasingly important to recognize how a subtle and sensitive subject like genocide is framed and narrated in digitally streamed films, and represented to the audiences for keeping memories alive.

Given the new-age paucity and importance of research on movie discourses on Holocaust, the paper sets out to analyze the memorialization of the Holocaust constructed in the films that are made digitally available around the globe in the most popular online streaming platform Netflix. Using Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) methods, this small-scale interpretative study specifically aims at analyzing the discourses of Holocaust atrocities and horrors depicted in the movies and how they are analogous and diverged from each other. The study also aims at analyzing the ‘perpetrator profiles’ represented as the protagonists behind the Holocaust. The primary findings of this study imply that the selected films have constructed different forms of narratives regarding the Holocaust history that are independent yet interconnected. These digitally available films play an imperative role in keeping the memory of Holocaust active through the exploration and representation of Germany's Nazi past of unthinkable atrocities.

Digital Media in Genocide Education – A Multiperspective Study on the Effects of 3D Interactive Testimonies of Holocaust Survivors

Anja Ballis

LMU Munich, Germany

Since survivors play an important role for teaching difficult history, technological advancements are being used to create and preserve their testimonies. Different players are involved in these efforts, often beginning with the Holocaust. For example, the USC Shoah Foundation developed interactive testimonies of survivors of the Holocaust and furthermore of the Nanjing Massacre. The characteristic of these media formats is the filming of survivors – answering 1,000 to 2,000 questions – in a multiscopic or stereoscopic way for 3D presentation. Supported by voice recognition, these questions and their corresponding replies are then processed so that users receive a stored answer from the survivor if their question can be matched to one of the pre-recorded ones. Independent of time and location, visitors to museums and memorial sites, as well as students in classrooms, can ask their questions to genocide survivors.

To gain insights into the effects of such media formats, I have empirically evaluated two German speaking interactive testimonies of Holocaust survivors at a memorial site in Germany (10/2020). Of central concern is to what extent the audience (1) connects with the survivors’ stories, (2) learns lessons from the past for the present, and (3) how visitors evaluate this form of communication. A mixed method design was chosen combining quantitative (questionnaire) and qualitative aspects (interview). The results show that the visitors gain an increased awareness of the importance of human rights, and they actively seek the survivors’ advice for fighting antisemitism. Further, significant differences in terms of gender and residence of the visitors can be identified. My presentation ends with the opportunity for listeners to explore the testimonies and with reflections on how to transfer these results to teaching genocides.