Making sense of Auschwitz: New perspectives on the Holocaust

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Date / time: 17 October, 6:30 pm - 7:45 pm

The British Academy

Making sense of Auschwitz: New perspectives on the Holocaust

British Academy Elie Kedourie Memorial Lecture

It is the task of the historian’, wrote the Auschwitz survivor Primo Levi, to help us imagine ‘the experience’ of the camp; this would expose common myths and misconceptions about the Holocaust. But how can historians make Auschwitz more palpable? How can they uncover the textures of everyday terror?

Drawing on recent research in spatial and sensory history, and the history of emotions, this lecture reflects on the lived experience of prisoners and perpetrators in the most lethal Nazi camp. It suggests that by looking more closely at landscapes and places, at feelings and perceptions (of spaces, smells and sounds), we can advance our understanding of the Holocaust.

Speaker: Professor Nikolaus Wachsmann, Professor in Modern European History, Birkbeck, University of London

Nikolaus Wachsmann has written widely on Nazi terror, most recently KL: A history of the Nazi concentration camps (Little Brown, 2015), winner of the 2016 Wolfson Prize. He serves on the advisory boards of memorials in Sachsenhausen, Ravensbrück, Belsen and Mauthausen, and has devised an AHRC-supported educational website on concentration camps.

FREE, booking required at