Irit Dekel’s lecture focuses on the symbolic space in which Holocaust memory is practiced and interpreted in Germany. Within this space, which she refers to as the “national memory atmosphere,” social positions are made possible for Muslims, Jews and other minorities as they become subjects of remembrance. Dekel discusses diverse visitors’ actions at the Holocaust Memorial in Berlin and the new memorials to the Sinti and Roma, homosexuals, and the disabled, as well as the discussion of such actions in the press. Dekel suggests that memorial sites and their public discussion are, on the one hand, often used as tools for public shaming yet also more pervasively encourage routine enactments of philosemitism as this sentiment is performed on the institutional, group, and individual levels in Germany. She analyzes how recent events following the so-called refugee crisis, the rise of the AfD party and populism in the German parliament are refracted through the impeding moral threat that those memorials and Holocaust memory itself may be irreparably broken.
Irit Dekel is a research associate at the Jena Center for Reconciliation Studies at Friedrich Schiller University Jena. Dekel co-directed a German-Israeli Foundation research on home museums and has written about the sociology of atmosphere, collective memory politics in Germany and Israel, and about migration and ethnic inequality in Germany. Among her publications are her book Mediation at the Holocaust Memorial in Berlin (2013) and “Subjects of Memory? Holocaust Memory in two German Historical Museums” in Dapim: Studies on the Holocaust Vol. 30 (2016).