Deconstruction of Stereotypes

It is above all Jewish artists who have devoted parts of their works to the deconstruction of the trite representation of the Holocaust. The memory constructions are their subject matter. Their art is an example of a loosening of the restrictions in the second and third generations. Behind the protective wall of a seeming cynicism lies their desire to determine their own position. This way of dealing with the situation speaks of the release from the constraints entailed in the seemingly valid representation of the Holocaust.
With his comic "Maus. A Survivor's Tale" cartoonist Art Spiegelman challenges the conventions of Holocaust representation. Using the means of the comic and his own provocative depiction he represents the different peoples of Europe in the form of animals – the Jews as mice, the Germans as cats, the Poles as pigs, etc. "Maus" tells the moving story of the Spiegelman family. This comic introduces the third phase of the culture of memory. Spiegelman attempts to overcome the helplessness of his own generation in trying to move under the weight of the crimes and the experience suffered by the generation of his parents.
In the 1980s a change in the presentation of the genocide discussion came about. The cultural breach came in 1985 with the broadcast of the film "Shoah" by Claude Lanzmann. It deeply shook the general awareness of the genocide. Lanzmann not only returned to the places where the concentration camps were located. The film also takes up the symbolism of the train ride: the journey on the tracks constantly evokes the shift in spheres from death to life. Lanzmann also films present-day trains, their arrivals and the train stations. On the poster is a still in which Lanzmann interviews the engine driver. Lanzmann created a new genre: the cinematic memorial, free of voyeurism, which let the victims and the perpetrators tell their stories.
Since the 1990s the deconstruction of clichés has become the rule for the generation of the grandchildren. Alan Schechner's picture from 1993 is no doubt one of the most uncompromising works in this context. The artist selected a famous photograph by Margaret Bourke-White which she made in 1945 for "Life" magazine in the liberated Buchenwald concentration camp. The British artist added a picture of himself to Bourke-White's omnipresent photograph. He is wearing a striped shirt which recalls the striped uniforms. He stands, staring at the viewer, before the famished prisoners demonstratively extending a can of "Diet Coke" – the embodiment of the Western consumer culture – toward the observer.
In the face of this picture, the question arises as to why and to what end the photograph of Margaret Bourke-White is used. Schechner wants to shock, but his criticism goes deeper. He is attacking the "Holocaust industry" and wants to strike at those who are responsible for the indiscriminate stringing together of motifs and for the paralysis of memory. And he comes out against the claim that photographs could possibly explain the inexpressible, or even the inconceivable.
The trial of Adolf Eichmann, Criminal Case 40/61, was opened in Jerusalem on 11 April 1961. After the Nuremberg trials it was the most closely followed post-War proceedings against a leading National-Socialist.
A question that is still asked today is whether Adolf Eichmann was a soulless bureaucrat, as Hannah Arendt wrote, or whether he was a hate-filled anti-Semite who murdered out of conviction, as the Israeli prosecutor Gideon Hausner claimed. Hannah Arendt followed the trial against Eichmann for the American weekly "The New Yorker".
Her book "Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil" breaks away from the idea that a demonic will lurks behind evil. Her theses not only contradicted Hausner, but also gave rise to worldwide protest. Hannah Arendt's thesis of Eichmann's "banality of evil" is also discussed in the film by Eyal Sivan and Rony Braumann, who were both born in Israel, but now live in France. They follow Hannah Arendt and deconstruct the other view of Eichmann by taking over the thesis of the banality of evil. The picture of Eichmann can be seen on the cover of the video cassette. A toy locomotive with red wheels is mounted in front of his eyes. The wheels of the locomotive make up his eyeglasses. Since he can only look through the locomotive to see, he becomes the locomotive, as it were, the engine of the murder of the European Jews.
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