Last week I stumbled upon a video on YouTube by content creator Patrick Ney entitled ‘A Warning to Those Visiting Auschwitz.’
For those not willing to watch the video the gist of it is Ney reflecting on his multiple visits to the sight, his observation of other tourists, and the question of Holocaust tourism.
This question is rather interesting to me given that Daniel P. Reynolds just recently released a novel that is an in depth look at this question.
I received a copy of Postcards from Auschwitz: Holocaust Tourism and the Meaning of Remembrance in exchange for an honest review, via NetGalley. With that in mind, lets see how Reynolds examined this hot button issue, shall we?
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Postcards from Auschwitz: Holocaust Tourism and the Meaning of Remembrance by Daniel P. Reynolds
Publisher: New York University Press (April 17, 2018)
Print Length: 336 pages
In Postcards from Auschwitz, Daniel P. Reynolds argues that tourism to former concentration camps, ghettos, and other places associated with the Nazi genocide of European Jewry has become an increasingly vital component in the evolving collective remembrance of the Holocaust. Responding to the tendency to dismiss tourism as commercial, superficial, or voyeuristic, Reynolds insists that we take a closer look at a phenomenon that has global reach, takes many forms, and serves many interests.
The book focuses on some of the most prominent sites of mass murder in Europe, and then expands outward to more recent memorial museums. Reynolds provides a historically-informed account of the different forces that have shaped Holocaust tourism since 1945, including Cold War politics, the sudden emergence of the “memory boom” beginning in the 1980s, and the awareness that eyewitnesses to the Holocaust are passing away. Based on his on-site explorations, the contributions from researchers in Holocaust studies and tourism studies, and the observations of tourists themselves, this book reveals how tourism is an important part of efforts to understand and remember the Holocaust, an event that continues to challenge ideals about humanity and our capacity to learn from the past.
Postcards from Auschwitz: Holocaust Tourism and the Meaning of Remembrance is an interesting and well researched look at the tourism sector, Holocaust museums and memorial sites, and the question of how to we approach showing off these sites while also being respectful. And yet, even with a conversation rife with possibilities the clinical look into the subject made the overall feel of the book fall flat.
Postcards from Auschwitz: Holocaust Tourism and the Meaning of Remembrance is a non fiction look by Daniel P. Reynolds on the uneasy link between tourism at Holocaust museums and memorials and what it means for a collective remembrance as the years progress.
Reynolds’ sobering exploration into how tourism has positively affected the maintenance of sights of the Holocaust while also allowing them to be used as educational tools was exquisitely presented. It was profound of Reynolds to not only include his own experiences, which included photographs, but also touch on his observations of others behavior and emotional response to visiting these sights. While reading, I remembered my own visit to Dachau concentration camp following my high school graduation and was able to correlate what Reynolds was proposing to what I had actually witnessed, specifically with the recollection of the field trip story. With that said, however, this book reads very analytically, leading me to conclude that this novel wouldn’t necessarily be accessible to the casual reader who is interested in World War II.
Overall Rating: 3 out of 5 stars.
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And those are my thoughts on Postcards from Auschwitz: Holocaust Tourism and the Meaning of Remembrance by Daniel P. Reynolds . Have any non-fiction reads with a specialization on World War II you think I should check out? Leave your recommendation below and help my TBR grow.