Marking the 2021 International Holocaust Remembrance Day, this article here at Haaretz by film, media scholars Tobias Ebbrecht-Hartmann and Tom Divon is about online Holocaust memorialization platforms and culture. With mainline memorialization institutions (museums and memorials) responding to the particular form of life under Coronavirus, the article draws attention to the larger phenomenon of new media practice that will become a permanent feature of post-Holocaust discourse after the pandemic.
While not “the real thing,” noted is how “live tours enable users to express a rich range of responses, from (virtually) raising hands to ask questions on chat, or share their thoughts through comments and emojis. The navigator is in constant dialogue with the users online and communicates questions to the tour guide, thereby maximizing the users’ self-inscription, their embeddedness, into the experience.”
With links, these sites are featured: the Yad Vashem “IRemember Wall” and the Auschwitz Memorial’s 360 degree virtual tours, the historical information app of the Buchenwald Memorial, and the Mauthausen Memorial’s educational hub on YouTube, the LIVE Instagram tours offered by the Neuengamme and Bergen-Belsen Memorials. Mentioned too are hashtags and the “migration” of memorialization to platforms like FB, Instagram and Tic Toc.
Going online embeds Holocaust memorialization into new human social environments long after the event, and also onto a new body-schema. I would look for an unreal and alien effect to these platforms. Instead of bringing the event up close under the illusion of immediacy, the effect is structured in terms of mediation and distance. While mimeographs, photocopies, books, film and other old media formats were always the critical component to Holocaust discourse, those old post-Holocaust-things were tangible. Many of them you could hold in the palm of your hand. These new digital creations are a new “generation” of Holocaust memory. Their place on the human body schema is at the tip of your fingers as you tap away at the device which you hold in the palm of your hand or one that sits on a table or desk.
More critical scholarly points of view are cited here, also at Haaretz, this one by Omer Benjakob. Including FB and Holocaust denial at FB, here the concern is with the control and distortion of information, while highlighting, in my view, the importance of curation as integral discursive features at online sites and in online culture; also the understanding that digital literacy needs to be a fundamental component of post-Holocaust education and discourse.