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Murder in Our Midst: The Holocaust, Industrial Killing, and Representationby Omer Bartov
Synopses & Reviews
War endlessly tries to mask itself. The myth of the heroic soldier testing his individual courage stands in stark contrast to the reality of mass, anonymous death and the suppression of individual actions. Murder in Our Midst shows that this fundamental tension reached its natural conclusion in the Holocaust, and that disguising it has required an ongoing effort to misrepresent war and the Holocaust as something other than industrial killing.
Examining a broad range of the representations of war's horrors, from scholarly depictions to those in popular literature, poetry, art, and the movies, Omer Bartov finds they have some things in common. Societies and cultures have attempted to form coherent images of horrific events, to draw didactic lessons from them, and to exploit them to legitimate ideological or political positions.
Made up of interconnected essays, this book is both a scholarly and an often personal and passionate examination of the emergence, implementation, and representation of industrial killing. Bartov draws out the links between recent revisionist attempts to minimize and deny the Holocaust, and Hollywood's ongoing fascination with National Socialism and Hitler's "Final Solution." Arguing that the modern predicament reflects the effects of the Nazi genocide on current perceptions of war, history, and memory, this book is a plea for compassion and commitment in an increasingly violent and indifferent world.
This text analyzes the ways in which the Holocaust has been represented in various mediums - academic histories, literature, poetry, art, cinema and museums. It addresses such issues as how different cultures have come to terms with the Holocaust and with what effects in times of peace and war.
Murder in Our Midst: The Holocaust, Industrial Killing, and Representation examines the emergence, implementation, and representation of industrial killing, an inherent and crucial component of modernity whose most extreme manifestation was the Holocaust. The mechanized, impersonal, and sustained mass destruction of human beings, organized and legitimized by states, scientists, jurists, and intellectuals, is rooted in the industrial slaughterhouse of the Great War. In Murder in Our Midst, Omer Bartov argues that the Nazi death factories are best understood in the context of modern warfare, beginning with the First World War. He shows how the way we understand ourselves reflects the ambivalent effects of the Holocaust on our perceptions of war and violence, history and memory, progress and barbarism. Analyzing a wide array of historical texts, works of fiction, films, and museums, Bartov leads the reader from ancient myths of heroism to the trenches of the Western Front, from Thomas Mann's romantic vision of war to Primo Levi's stark depictions of genocide, from colonial war museums to the visual art of the Holocaust. These representations of killing share some of the same important features. They attempt to form coherent images from horrific events, to draw didactic lessons from them, and to use them for political ends.
Includes bibliographical references (p. 187-235) and index.
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