Students Staff

20 May 2015

What did the 'liberation' of the Nazi death camps really mean for the survivors? Latest volume of Holocaust in History and Memory released

This year marks the 70th anniversary of the ‘liberation” of the Nazi death camps at the end of the Second World War and this is the theme of the latest volume of the international journal The Holocaust in History and Memory.

One of the key questions the journal looks at is what ‘liberation’ really meant for the survivors of Nazi persecution as it encourages a more complex understanding of the aftermath of the War.

Founding editor Professor Rainer Schulze said: “This issue of The Holocaust in History and Memory takes its cue from the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the camps, but most of the contributions focus on questions which were not necessarily at the centre of the commemorative events.

”What does ‘liberation’ mean? Can we really speak of the ‘liberation of the camps’, or would another term be more appropriate, for example the ‘opening of the camps’ by Allied armies? Who was actually ‘liberated’ and in what sense? Does ‘liberation’ mean different things to the different groups persecuted by the Nazis?”

Watch The Holocaust in History and Memory - Volume Seven on our Vimeo channel.

Professor Schulze points out that persecution continued for some groups, for example, homosexuals were reimprisoned after their liberation from the Nazi camps. The Roma and Sinti people also continued to face social, political and economic discrimination. Meanwhile, Jewish survivors were scarred and traumatised by what had happened to them and their families.

Another important strand of the Journal is the contribution of the creative arts to engaging new generations – particularly young people - with the issues surrounding the Holocaust. The Journal includes a short story by Danny M Cohen and a discussion of his work alongside articles by the teams behind the important documentaries Night Will Fall and German Concentration Camps Factual Survey.

Professor Schulze said: “As we move further away from the events there are fewer and fewer people who can talk to us with the authenticity of being a survivor. In this context fiction and creative writing, films and documentaries, will become more and more important in engaging the younger generation with what really happened in the Holocaust.”

For more information go to The Holocaust in History and Memory website.

Full list of contributors and articles

  • Professor Rainer Schulze (University of Essex) 15 April 1945: Bergen-Belsen – Day of Liberation
  • Danny M. Cohen (Northwestern University, Illinois) Behind ‘The 19th Window’
  • Danny M. Cohen (Northwestern University, Illinois) The 19th Window
  • Sarah Wardle (Middlesex University, London) In The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe
  • Lorna Gibb (Middlesex University, London) The ‘Red Cross’ Concentration Camp in Niš, Serbia
  • W. Jake Newsome (State University of New York at Buffalo) ‘Liberation Was Only For Others’: Breaking the Silence in Germany Surrounding the Nazi Persecution of Homosexuals
  • Margarete Myers Feinstein (University of California, Los Angeles, Center for the Study of Women) ‘I Enjoyed a Taste of Revenge’: Jewish Survivors Confronting SS Men and Ordinary Germans, 1945–1949
  • Katharina von Kellenbach (St. Mary’s College of Maryland, St. Mary’s City, Maryland) The Liberation of Perpetrators
  • Verena Buser (Alice Salomon Hochschule Berlin) Displaced Children 1945 and the Child Tracing Division of the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration
  • Marina Stal (Teachers College, Columbia University, New York) Bella’s Story: Holocaust Child Survivor and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
  • Charles A. Coulomb (Virginia Holocaust Museum, Richmond, Virginia) Recovering Lost Memories: The Fate of the Jews of Baden-Saarpfalz
  • Shannon Woodcock (Sextures Institute, Sydney) Honouring Forgotten Struggles: The Deportation of Romanian Roma to Transnistria and the Archive of Resistance
  • Jenna Brager (Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey) ‘Unknown Woman’: The Visual Politics of Looking Back

Special section: Filming the Liberation of the Camps

Introduction Professor Rainer Schulze

Assembling Night Will Fall

Sally Angel (Angel TV, London) – The Producer’s Perspective
André Singer (Spring Films, London) – The Director’s Perspective
Toby Haggith (Imperial War Museums, London) - The 1945 Documentary German Concentration Camps Factual Survey and the 70th Anniversary of the Liberation of the Camps


Menachem Z. Rosensaft (ed.), God, Faith & Identity from the Ashes:Reflections of Children and Grandchildren of Holocaust Survivors

About Professor Rainer Schulze

Professor Schulze is Professor of Modern European History at the University of Essex and a Member of the Human Rights Centre. His research has focused on the history of Bergen-Belsen and the history of genocides and forced migrations in twentieth-century Europe. From 2000 to 2007 he worked as one of the project leaders for the international team of researchers preparing a new permanent exhibition at the Gedenkstätte Bergen-Belsen. In 2005 he became a member of the International Experts' Commission for the Redevelopment of the Gedenkstätte Bergen-Belsen, the only representative from the United Kingdom.

He was one of the historical consultants on André Singer's acclaimed documentary Night Will Fall (2014) and on the recently restored and completed historical documentary German Concentration Camps Factual Survey (1945/2014).

He is the co-ordinator of the annual Holocaust Memorial Week at the University of Essex and of the Dora Love Prize.

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