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.
Photography that could easily appear in a volume on ‘human rights photography’: the two chapters on the campaign against atrocities in the Congo (by Twomey and by Kevin Grant), one on the Armenian genocide (by Peter Balakian), and one on how Holocaust memory affected the Western reception of photos of suffering from Biafra (by Heerten). Of course, to avoid violating Twomey’s point about respecting earlier interpretive languages, such a volume on human rights photography would
Holocaust comparisons. This rhetoric and the visual connections were of vital importance. Right from the start, when these images began arriving in Western publics, published in mass media outlets, they were read with references to what we – at least now – call the Holocaust. In the period, something that may be dubbed ‘Holocaust memory’ was beginning to form. Already then, the images of the liberation of the camps from 1945, taken by soldiers or photographers that accompanied
the kind of radicalism we have in mind with a few brief examples drawn from leading left intellectuals of the recent period. The historian Tony Judt wrote in the New York Review of Books that Holocaust memory crowded out all other injustices by treating the Holocaust not as one evil among many but as ‘radical evil’. He maintained that the charge of antisemitism was being politically instrumentalised: Today, when
resulted in formal constitutional acceptance, merging some religious ideals into the country’s declaration of independence and incorporating religious regulations into state legislation.40 A correlation of Holocaust memory construction in the late 1940s and early 1950s with the birth of a Jewish state led to an implicit understanding between Orthodox and secular Zionists. Both saw Israel as an antithesis of the desperate reality of Diaspora Jewry. Both groups adopted the post-war mythical and apocalyptic narration –‘from holocaust to revival’ –in the form of heroic
‘symbolic vehicle’ and the site of intersection of various constructions of meaning of both the molar and the past that it evokes,9 the tooth serves as a prism through which one could examine the dynamics of transnationalising Holocaust memory politics, within which all three interested parties, the ‘Germans’, the ‘Jews’ and the ‘Poles’, are pursuing and redefining their own, sometimes conflicting, agendas. In what follows, I will concentrate primarily on the trajectories of dead-body politics in post-war and post-1989 Poland, thus bringing my analysis closer to
reductionism, he has argued, leads invariably to a trivialisation of the Holocaust’s importance, while contributing to a ‘growing lapse of memory’.28 The primary problem he sees with this sort of ‘lazy’ remembrance is that it promotes misuse, creating problems for those who are tasked with keeping Holocaust memories alive. As he laments: ‘Used in contexts to which it does not apply, weakened by its metaphorical use, and degraded by needless repetition, the term “genocide” is wearing out and dying. The exhaustion of meaning makes it easier for the workers for the negation to