Aarhus Universitets segl

Kirkehistorisk undersøgelse af de holdninger, der er nedlagt i europæiske jødiske museer i skyggen af holocaust

Jette Bjørka Fosgaard (ISBN 87-990783-0-9)

The subject of the present study is the European Jewish Museums and the way they see their own mission in the time after World War II. The examination will make it possible, I hope, to gain knowledge about the museums, the way they see their tasks, their purposes, their concepts and what kind of texts the museums have chosen in connection with their presentations and exhibitions. It has not been possible, however, to cover all areas of the European Jewish museums, and I have felt compelled to give priority to some material. Holocaust has been subjected to a vast number of interpretations from professional historiography and from people who find that the destiny of the Jewish people and Judaism is of great importance. An event so incomprehensible as the Holocaust has both been seen as something ”above history” which must be insulated from normal historiography and as an event that will be interpreted due to shifting modes of cultural and political understanding. In this study the Holocaust is seen as an event that necessarily must influence also the European Jewish Museums.

The paper falls in 3 major parts each of which is divided into chapters. The first part of the examination deals with parts of the debate that preceded the materialization of the museum. The second part will attempt to give an insight into the materialized Danish Jewish Museum, Felix-Nussbaum-Haus, Osnabrück and The Jewish Museum Berlin. The third part will pay a visit to the Jewish museums in Vienna, Prague and Rendsburg. Jews have been living in Europe for two thousand years and I have tried to throw light upon the traditions for Jewish-European co-existence, Jews choice of settling in different areas and the conditions they were offered. The European Jewish museums all have different concepts, and they differ in their choice of texts to tell their message. The Danish Jewish Museum tells about the generally peaceful Danish-Jewish co-existence. In Felix Nussbaum House, Osnabrück, one single man, the artist Felix Nussbaum becomes the symbol of continuity and the one that tells the fate of 6 million people. The Jewish Museum Berlin is a place of mo(u)rning – being both ”the void” where life is missing and the place where remembering the past will give a hope a future. Most of the museums are centres of knowledge and research. As I have attempted to illustrate in my study the inter-active medium the Jewish museum invites to reflection and contemplation, and I can conclude that none of the museums dealt with in this examination wants to be only containers exhibiting collections. As it should have appeared from my analysis the museums are dynamic institutions and some of them even see themselves as carriers of significance in a pluralistic and many-cultural Europe and open to many interpretations. All of the European Jewish museums dealt with in this study seem to be very conscious about ethics in the way they carry out their mission.

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