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On the Death of Jews
Photographs and History
Translated from the French by Sarah Clift
With a Foreword by Dorota Glowacka
138 pages, 15 illus., bibliog.
ISBN 978-1-78920-881-8 $145.00/£107.00 / Hb / Published (March 2021)
ISBN 978-1-78920-924-2 $29.95/£23.95 / Pb / Published (March 2021)
eISBN 978-1-78920-882-5 eBook
Praise for the French and Polish editions:
“A great and shattering book.” • Jan T. Gross
“Emotion, sensitivity, and suffering are not the enemies of precision or historical rigor and can sometimes make it more substantial, even more accurate. This is what Nadine Fresco manages to do with strength and brilliance, through a steady effort of writing, in this moving book.” • Politis
“A meticulous and shattering investigation of eight horrific pictures, in which the progressive revelation of the truth is reminiscent of Daniel Mendelssohn’s The Lost: A Search for Six of Six Million.” • L’Arche
“Around the pain, the anguish, the astonishment, the shame, the refusal to see, Nadine Fresco, with all her resources as a historian, delicately undertakes to build a shelter made of arguments, research on facts, deeds, and words. She envelops the horror while revealing it, and she shelters past sufferings as well as the one she awakens in the reader.” • La Quinzaine littéraire
“Fresco skillfully guides us from the flat surface of photography to the depths of the victims’ experience—their humiliation, loneliness, suffering, and death. A fascinating essay about the cognitive, aesthetic, and moral dilemmas of the photographic representation of the Holocaust.” • Jacek Leociak
“A meticulous and shattering investigation of eight horrific pictures…”—L’Arche
In December 1941, on a shore near the Latvian city of Liepaja, Nazi death squads (the Einsatzgruppen) and local collaborators murdered in three days more than 2,700 Jews. The majority were women and children, most men having already been shot during the summer.
The perpetrators took pictures of the December killings.
These pictures are among the rare photographs from the first period of the extermination, during which over 800 000 Jews from the Baltic to the Black Sea were shot to death. By showing the importance of photography in understanding persecution, Nadine Fresco offers a powerful meditation on these images while confronting the essential questions of testimony and guilt.
From the forward by Dorota Glowackay:
Straddling the boundary between historical inquiry and personal reflection, this extraordinary text unfolds as a series of encounters with eponymic Holocaust photographs. Although only a small number of photographs are reproduced here, Fresco provides evocative descriptions of many well-known images: synagogues and Torah scrolls burning on the night of Kristallnacht; deportations to the ghettos and the camps; and, finally, mass executions in the killing fi elds of Eastern Europe. The unique set of photographs included in On the Death of Jews shows groups of women and children from Liepaja (Liepája), shortly before they were killed in December 1941 in the dunes of Shkede (Škéde) on the Baltic Sea. In the last photograph of the series, we see the victims’ bodies tumbling into the pit.
Nadine Fresco is a French historian and an honorary researcher at the National Center for Scholarly Research in Paris. She is the author of Fabrication d’un antisémite (1999), and La Mort des juifs (2008), a collection of texts in which On the Death of Jews: Photographs and History first appeared. She is co-editor of the scholarly journal Le Genre humain and co-editor, with Martine Leibovici, of Anne-Lise Stern’s Le Savoir-déporté. Camps, histoire, psychanalyse (2004).
Subject: Genocide History Media Studies Jewish Studies
Area: Central/Eastern Europe
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