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Re-education, Entertainment and Politics of Memory

Date & Time:
August 28, 2018 | 10:45 am
ICT 102
Hans-Joachim Hahn (Technical University of Aachen, Germany [RWTH])


Two Early Documentaries on the Holocaust: Death Mills (1945) and Nuit et brouillard (F. 1955, Night and Fog)

The two films Death Mills (1945) and Nuit et brouillard (F. 1955, Night and Fog) mark important early moments within the shaping of the so called ‘cultures of memory’ in post-war European countries in respect to the German genocide on the European Jewry and atrocities towards other persecuted groups. The analysis of these films therefore allows for a better understanding of the ambivalences of visual representations as well as of the unavoidability and implications of different perspectives. In fact, some of the images distributed within the two films became ‘icons of destruction’ (Cornelia Brink) and contribute thus to the forms of our understanding of the Holocaust until today. Night and Fog even in its time already stirred up a heated political debate in Germany and France.



The participants of this lecture will not only gain insight into the histories of origins of both films, their addressed audiences and about their respective reception but also learn about more general questions regarding the representation of the Holocaust. The presentation will focus on questions of visual representations, on films and photographs as historical documents of the Holocaust (and in general), on narrative strategies and perspectives of these films and on the ways, how they deal with the emotions of the viewers. The viewing of the complete Death Mills forms an integral part of the lecture.


About the Speaker:

Dr Hans-Joachim Hahn teaches New German Literature at the Technical University of Aachen, Germany (RWTH).  In early 2017 he successfully completed his habilitation on the basis of the manuscript “Constructions of Europe within German-speaking Jewish Literature” (‘second book’). For his study “Representations of the Holocaust. On West German ‘Cultures of Memory’ after 1979” (published 2005 by C. Winter, Heidelberg) he received his doctorate at Freie Universität Berlin in 2003. From 2013-2015 Hahn was Visiting Professor at the Technical University of Aachen and during spring term 2018 he was selected Visiting Professor for Jewish Studies at the University of Graz. Only recently he published a book-length essay on “Narratives of the New Man. On the Promise of a Better World” (review).




Talk organized by the School of Languages, Linguistics, Literatures and Cultures, Faculty of Arts, University of Calgary, with support from the Language Research Centre and the Association for German Education in Calgary (AGEC).