Workshop

Juridical Testimonies after 1945 – Expectations, Contexts and Comparisons

Workshop at the Leibniz Institute for Jewish History and Culture – Simon Dubnow in collaboration with the Fritz Bauer Institute

Program

Contact and Registration (until 29 March 2019)

Dagi Knellessen / Katharina Stengel

Leibniz Institute for Jewish History and Culture – Simon Dubnow

Goldschmidtstraße 28, 04103 Leipzig

Phone +49 341 21735-755

Email: antwort@dubnow.de

Bearing witness to the Holocaust was integrally related to the prosecution of the perpetrators after 1945. Many survivors who testified to their experiences did so in conscious support of the prosecution of perpetrators. Lamentations for the dead and indictments of the crimes blended together, as did demands for justice, truth, and occasionally vengeance. 

Later, the realms of prosecution of and bearing witness to the Holocaust increasingly diverged. The legal testimony of survivors became a controversial issue, characterized by contradictory expectations and demands. Federal German criminal lawyers as well as a part of the general public demanded by reference to constitutional principles that the trials against perpetrators of and collaborators in the state-organized mass murder be conducted as completely ordinary criminal trials. From this perspective, the survivors, with their deep traumas, were dubious witnesses, too biased and emotional. Witness credibility was assessed not least of all in the extent to which they exhibited signs of hatred or feelings of vengeance. 

Former concentration camp inmates and Holocaust survivors continued using the trials to publicly proclaim their knowledge of the crimes within the frameworks enabled by criminal law. Their motives and concerns were manifold; their ability to make themselves understood in court varied. Legal testimony concerning the Holocaust was a transnational phenomenon; the origins of the witnesses in different, often shifting communities of remembrance and the languages that were spoken on the witness stand significantly shaped the contents and reception of the testimony. This workshop will discuss the legal testimony of Holocaust survivors from various disciplinary perspectives and with regard to different time periods and countries.

8th to 9th April 2019
Dubnow Institute

Welcoming Address: Jörg Deventer/Elisabeth Gallas

Introduction: Katharina Stengel/Dagi Knellessen

 

Workshop at the Leibniz Institute for Jewish History and Culture – Simon Dubnow in collaboration with the Fritz Bauer Institute

Leibniz Association, Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG), Fritz Bauer Institut