The Lagermuseum Creative Manuscript and ‘Encountering Auschwitz: Touring the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum’
AbstractThe Lagermuseum My creative manuscript – an extract of a longer novel – seeks to illuminate a littleknown aspect of the history of the Auschwitz concentration and death camp complex, namely the trade and display of prisoner artworks. However, it is also concerned with exposing the governing paradigms inherent to contemporary encounters with the Holocaust, calling attention to the curatorial processes present in all interrogations of this most contentious historical subject. Questions relating to ownership, display and representational hierarchies permeate the text, characterised by a shape-shifting curator figure and artworks which refuse to adhere to the canon he creates for them. The Lagermuseum is thus in constant dialogue with my critical thesis, examining the fictional devices which often remain unacknowledged within established modes of historical discourse, specifically museums and tours. What emerges, I hope, is an ethically-sensitive work, which interrogates two key questions: Who is in charge of history? How do the ways in which history is curated affect our interpretations of it? ‘Encountering Auschwitz: Touring the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum’ In the mid-1990s, as the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum cemented its status as one of Europe’s most popular memorial destinations, critical conversation revolved around the potential implications and ramifications of Holocaust tourism. My thesis, however, aims to address an apparent gap within this still-evolving field of research. Thus I examine not visitor motivations for going to such sites, but the types of historical encounters available to those who seek them. Taking a personal, theoretical and strongly narrative approach, I critique the guided group tours provided by the museum, evaluating them in terms of both form and content. Particular emphasis is placed on representative tropes which can be connected to ethical concerns regarding the ‘museumification’ of Auschwitz, as well as wider issues within contemporary trauma theory and dark tourism research.
Griffiths, Claire (2015) The Lagermuseum Creative Manuscript and ‘Encountering Auschwitz: Touring the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum’. Doctoral thesis, University of East Anglia.