This article seeks to show that the bodies of Jewish people who died in the Drancy internment camp between 1941 and 1944 were handled on French soil in a doubly normalised manner: first by the police and judicial system, and then in relation to funeral arrangements. My findings thus contradict two preconceived ideas that have become firmly established in collective memory: first, the belief that the number who died in the Drancy camp is difficult to establish; and second, the belief that the remains of internees who died in the camp were subjected to rapid and anonymous burial in a large mass grave in Drancy municipal cemetery.
The Kulmhof extermination camp in Chełmno nad Nerem was the first camp set up by the Nazis to exterminate Jews during the Second World War. The history of Kulmhof has long been an area of interest for academics, but despite thorough research it remains one of the least-known places of its kind among the public. Studies of the role of archaeology in acquiring knowledge about the functioning of the camp have been particularly compelling. The excavations carried out intermittently over a thirty-year period (1986–2016), which constitute the subject of this article, have played a key role in the rise in public interest in the history of the camp.
Jon Seligman, Paul Bauman, Richard Freund, Harry Jol, Alastair McClymont, and Philip Reeder
The Ponar-Paneriai base, the main extermination site of Vilna-Vilnius, began its existence as a Red Army fuel depot in 1940. After Nazi occupation of the city in 1941 the Einsatzgruppen and mostly Lithuanian members of the Ypatingasis būrys used the pits dug for the fuel tanks for the murder of the Jews of Vilna and large numbers of Polish residents. During its operation, Ponar was cordoned off, but changes to the topography of the site since the Second World War have made a full understanding of the site difficult. This article uses contemporary plans and aerial photographs to reconstruct the layout of the site, in order to better understand the process of extermination, the size of the Ponar base and how the site was gradually reduced in size after 1944.
This article has two aims: to examine the effects of victim proximity to crematoria ashes and ash pits both consciously and unconsciously in a subset of Holocaust survivors, those who were incarcerated at the dedicated death camps of Belzec, Sobibor, Treblinka, as well as Auschwitz-Birkenau; and to contrast these effects, the subject positions they produce, with their suppression as the basis both for a strategy of survival during incarceration and for a reimagined identity after the war. Within a cohort of four survivors from Rudolf Reder (Belzec), Esther Raab (Sobibor), Jacob Wiernik (Treblinka) and Shlomo Venezia (Auschwitz), I trace the ways in which discrete memories and senses became constitutive in the formation of the subject prior to and after escape – the experience of liberation – so that essentially two kinds of subjects became visible, the subject in liberation and the subject of ashes. In conjunction with these two kinds of subjects, I introduce the compensatory notion of a third path suggested both by H. G. Adler and Anna Orenstein, also Holocaust survivors, that holds both positions together in one space, the space of literature, preventing the two positions from being stranded in dialectical opposition to each other.
Thousands of people died in Rotterdam during the Second World War in more than
300 German and Allied bombardments. Civil defence measures had been taken before
the German invasion of the Netherlands in May 1940 and these efforts were
intensified during the country’s occupation as Allied bombers attacked
Rotterdam’s port, factories, dry docks and oil terminals. Residential
neighbourhoods were also hit through imprecise targeting and by misfired flak
grenades. Inadequate air raid shelters and people’s reluctance to enter
them caused many casualties. The condition of the corpses and their post-mortem
treatment was thus co-constituted by the relationship between the victims and
their material circumstances. This article concludes that an understanding of
the treatment of the dead after war, genocide and mass violence must pay
systematic attention to the materiality of death because the condition,
collection and handling of human remains is affected by the material means that
impacted on the victims.
On 25 September 1911 the battleship Liberté exploded in
Toulon harbour. This tragedy is just one of the many disasters that the French
fleet suffered at the end of the nineteenth and the beginning of the twentieth
centuries and also represents the peak of these calamities, since it is
undoubtedly the most deadly suffered by a French Navy ship in peacetime. The aim
of this article is to study how the navy managed this disaster and the resulting
deaths of service personnel, which were all the more traumatic because the
incident happened in France’s main military port and in circumstances
that do not match the traditional forms of death at sea.
The construction of an underground car park beneath the main square of Turin,
Italy in 2004 led to the unearthing of the skeletonised remains of twenty-two
individuals attributable to the early eighteenth century. At this time the city
was besieged during the War of the Spanish Succession in a hard-fought battle
that resulted in unexpected triumph for the Piedmontese, a victory that marked a
fundamental turning point in Italian history. The current study assesses the
strength of evidence linking the excavated individuals to the siege and assesses
their possible role in the battle through consideration of their biological
profiles, patterns of pathology and the presence of traumatic injuries. This
article presents the first analysis of evidence for the siege of Turin from an
anthropological point of view, providing new and unbiased information from the
most direct source of evidence available: the remains of those who actually took
Based on a study of intersecting French archives (those of the Val de
Grâce Hospital, the Service Historique de la Défense and the
Archives Diplomatiques), and with the support of numerous printed sources, this
article focuses on the handling of the bodies of French soldiers who died of
cholera during the Crimean War (1854–56). As a continuation of studies
done by historians Luc Capdevila and Danièle Voldman, the aim here is to
consider how the diseased corpses of these soldiers reveal both the causes and
circumstances of their deaths. Beyond the epidemiological context, these dead
bodies shed light on the sanitary conditions and suffering resulting from years
of military campaigns. To conclude, the article analyses the material traces
left by these dead and the way that the Second Empire used them politically,
giving the remains of leaders who died on the front lines of the cholera
epidemic a triumphant return to the country and a state funeral.