From 1945 until around 1960, ceremonies of a new kind took place throughout Europe to commemorate the Holocaust and the deportation of Jews; ashes would be taken from the site of a concentration camp, an extermination camp, or the site of a massacre and sent back to the deportees country of origin (or to Israel). In these countries, commemorative ceremonies were then organised and these ashes (sometimes containing other human remains) placed within a memorial or reburied in a cemetery. These transfers of ashes have, however, received little attention from historical researchers. This article sets out to describe a certain number of them, all differing considerably from one another, before drawing up a typology of this phenomenon and attempting its analysis. It investigates the symbolic function of ashes in the aftermath of the Second World War and argues that these transfers – as well as having a mimetic relationship to transfers of relics – were also instruments of political legitimisation.

Human Remains and Violence: An Interdisciplinary Journal
Jürgen Habermas and the European left

5 The Jewish question after the Holocaust: Jürgen Habermas and the European left I have, of course, long since abandoned my anti-Zionism, which was based on a confidence in the European labour movement, or, more broadly, in European society and civilisation, which that society and civilisation have not justified. If, instead of arguing against Zionism in the 1920s and 1930s I had urged European

in Antisemitism and the left
The afterlives of human remains at the Bełzec extermination camp

38 2 (Re)politicising the dead in post-​Holocaust Poland: the afterlives of human remains at the Bełzec extermination camp1 Zuzanna Dziuban At the official dedication of the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe on 10 May 2005 in Berlin, Lea Rosh, a German journalist who launched and led the long-​lasting campaign for the erection of this contentious monument,2 herself became a source of extreme controversy. During her impassioned speech, held in front of a large and engaged audience including Holocaust survivors, their relatives and Jewish religious

in Human remains in society

During the Second World War and its aftermath, the legend was spread that the Germans turned the bodies of Holocaust victims into soap stamped with the initials RIF, falsely interpreted as made from pure Jewish fat. In the years following liberation, RIF soap was solemnly buried in cemeteries all over the world and came to symbolise the six million killed in the Shoah, publicly showing the determination of Jewry to never forget the victims. This article will examine the funerals that started in Bulgaria and then attracted several thousand mourners in Brazil and Romania, attended by prominent public personalities and receiving widespread media coverage at home and abroad. In 1990 Yad Vashem laid the Jewish soap legend to rest, and today tombstones over soap graves are falling into decay with new ones avoiding the word soap. RIF soap, however, is alive in the virtual world of the Internet and remains fiercely disputed between believers and deniers.

Human Remains and Violence: An Interdisciplinary Journal

This article describes the powerplay around the recent discovery (summer 2015) of eighteenth-century Jewish graves in the French city of Lyon. Prior to the French Revolution, Jews had no right to have their own cemeteries, and the corpses of the deceased were buried in the basement of the local catholic hospital, the Hôtel- Dieu. In recent years this centrally located building was completely renovated and converted into a retail complex selling luxury brands. The discovery and subsequent identification of the graves – and of some human remains – led to a complex confrontation between various actors: archaeologists, employed either by the municipality or by the state; religious authorities (mostly Lyons chief rabbi); the municipality itself; the private construction companies involved; direct descendants of some of the Jews buried in the hospital‘s basement; as well as the local media. The question of what to do with the graves took centre stage, and while exhumations were favoured by both archaeologists and the representatives of the families, the chief rabbi – supported by the construction companies – proved reluctant to exhume, for religious reasons. In the first part of his article the author details the origins of this Jewish funerary place and current knowledge about it. He then goes on to analyse what was at stake in the long negotiations, arguing that the memory of the Holocaust played a role in the attitude of many of the parties involved. By way of conclusion he considers the decision not to exhume the graves and elaborates on the reasons why this led to some dissatisfaction.

Human Remains and Violence: An Interdisciplinary Journal

This essay analyses the literature on the foibe to illustrate a political use of human remains. The foibe are the deep karstic pits in Istria and around Trieste where Yugoslavian Communist troops disposed of Italians they executed en masse during World War II. By comparing contemporary literature on the foibe to a selection of archival reports of foibe exhumation processes it will be argued that the foibe literature popular in Italy today serves a political rather than informational purpose. Counterpublic theory will be applied to examine how the recent increase in popular foibe literature brought the identity of the esuli, one of Italy‘s subaltern counterpublics, to the national stage. The paper argues that by employing the narrative structure of the Holocaust, contemporary literature on the foibe attempts to recast Italy as a counterpublic in the wider European public sphere, presenting Italy as an unrecognised victim in World War II.

Human Remains and Violence: An Interdisciplinary Journal
Forensic and archaeological approaches to locating the remains of Holocaust victims

163 7 ‘Earth conceal not my blood’: forensic and archaeological approaches to locating the remains of Holocaust victims Caroline Sturdy Colls Introduction ‘Earth conceal not my blood’. It is this statement with which every visitor to Sobibór in Poland was confronted as they entered the memorial site marking the former Nazi extermination camp that existed there from April 1942 to October 1943.1 This echoed the biblical statement in the Book of Job, in which Job pleads ‘O earth, cover not thou my blood, and let my cry have no resting place’.2 Although this line

in Human remains in society

90 4 Exhumations in post-​war rabbinical responsas David Deutsch The purpose of this chapter is to offer an insight into post-​war Jewish responsa (decisions and rulings made by scholars of Jewish religious law) addressing the issue of exhumation and reburial of human remains stemming from the Holocaust, following research into thirty responsas submitted by ordained and practising Orthodox rabbis.1 The first part of the chapter will provide a brief and general presentation of the jargon found in responsa literature, methodology and reasoning, as well as the

in Human remains in society
Open Access (free)
Universalism and the Jewish question

maintained that Germans and Jews were locked in a conflict, that Jews were winning as a result of Jewish emancipation and that this conflict could only be resolved by the forced removal of Jews from Germany. Antisemitism subsequently became a crucial element of Nazi ideology and helped justify the Nazi genocide of Jews. After the military defeat of Nazism, and termination of the Holocaust, antisemitism did not simply vanish from the political landscape of Europe or majority

in Antisemitism and the left
Open Access (free)
Curation and exhibition in the aftermath of genocide and mass-violence

This book addresses the practices, treatment and commemoration of victims’ remains in post- genocide and mass violence contexts. Whether reburied, concealed, stored, abandoned or publically displayed, human remains raise a vast number of questions regarding their legal, ethical and social uses.

Human Remains in Society will raise these issues by examining when, how and why bodies are hidden or exhibited. Using case studies from multiple continents, each chapter will interrogate their effect on human remains, either desired or unintended, on various political, cultural or religious practices. How, for instance, do issues of confiscation, concealment or the destruction of bodies and body parts in mass crime impact on transitional processes, commemoration or judicial procedures?