Confronting (Historical) Responsibility for the Holocaust and Slavery in a Relational Perspective

Beyond ‘Good’ and ‘Evil’

The question how to study, teach and remember historical mass crimes, above all the Holocaust and Slavery, has become emblematic in recent years. This 3rd Balzan Bystanding Lecture takes up the challenge and provides grounds for a relational perspective based on new conceptual thinking from the field of Transitional Justice and fresh empirical work on how Dutch teachers address these issues in their every-day educational work.

Nicole Immler will open with a paper focusing on what (Holocaust) historians might learn from a Transitional Justice perspective, in particular from the recognition and repair instruments (of which education is one aspect) that deal with the history and aftermath of the Holocaust, colonial regimes, and slavery. Joandi Hartendorp will then present the findings of her dissertation on Dutch history education and its relation to cultural memory. Highlighting that the teaching of the Holocaust and colonialism lacks a critical discussion of perpetration she pleas for abandoning the ‘black or white’/’evil’ or ‘good’ dichotomy. Rather, a spectral approach would allow pupils to better comprehend the choices contemporaries made. Martijn Eickhoff will offer a commentary, followed by a panel discussion and Q & A, moderated by Christina Morina and Martijn Eickhoff.

About the speakers

Nicole Immler is Professor of Historical Memory and Transformative Justice at UVH Utrecht. She wrote her PhD on Das Familiengedächtnis der Wittgensteins. After working at the restitution panel ‘General Settlement Fund for Victims of National Socialism’ in Vienna, she conducted research on The Afterlife of Restitution. With her research on Narratives of (In)Justice, she was also a Marie Curie Fellow in the research program Understanding the Age of Transitional Justice: Narratives in a Historical Perspective at the NIOD Institute.

Joandi Hartendorp has recently completed her PhD in which she comparatively researched Holocaust and slavery education and memory through a social imaginaries and multi-directional approach. She also guest lectures at several universities on post-colonial history and gender studies. Additionally, she works as an policy advisor to the Amsterdam Alderman on Diversity and inclusivity.

Christina Morina is Professor of General History with a particular focus on Contemporary History at the University of Bielefeld. Her research focuses on the social and memory history of National Socialism, the political and cultural history of divided and united Germany and the relationship between history and memory. Currently, she directs the collaborative project ‘Bystanding in the Holocaust in Europe. Experiences, Ramifications, Representations, 1933 to the present’, supported by Saul Friedländer’s Balzan Prize funds. She is co-editor of Probing the Limits of Categorization. The Bystander in Holocaust History (with Krijn Thijs, 2018).

Martijn Eickhoff is director of NIOD Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies and endowed professor of Archaeology and Heritage of War and Mass Violence at the University of Groningen. He researches the history, cultural dimensions and after-effects of large-scale violence and regime change in Europe and Asia in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, with a particular emphasis on the spatial, material and transnational aspects. In 2020, he published the book The Politics of Heritage in Indonesia, co-written with Marieke Bloembergen.

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