National Holocaust Memorials

A transnational comparison.

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Contrary to the other national memorials of significant importance, the Berlin Memorial does not include a research center or archive, and it is not used for ceremonies of any kind, whether official wreath-laying or religious services.

A Transnational Circuit of Remembrance     

These four memorials show the passage of Holocaust remembrance from victims to witnesses to perpetrators, and the increased political and financial involvement of the State in national memory. In spite of their differences, these memorials participate together in a transnational circuit of remembrance practices; their "architecture of absence" is emulated across continents, and each of the museums borrows archives and objects from the others.

These four sites also confirm that an artistic monument does not seem to be a fully efficient memorial, without a museum or exhibit that offers a visual and cognitive account of historical events. When art becomes too abstract or too allusive, a memorial can lose its purpose, its identity can become ambiguous, and its function unclear. The Holocaust, or any tragedy, cannot afford to be commemorated in a limbo of uncertainty.

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Brigitte Sion

Brigitte Sion is an expert on post-Holocaust memory, most notably memorials and monuments, commemorative practices, restitution and compensation. Her expertise also includes the history of Anti-Semitism. She is the former director of the Committee against Anti-Semitism (CICAD) in Geneva, Switzerland.