Tuesday, April 9, 7:30 PM
Harris Hall 108
‘I pass on to you merely a small part of what took place in the hell of Birkenau-Auschwitz’, Zalmen Gradowski, a Polish Jew, tells readers in a secret manuscript, buried in 1944 near the gas chambers. ‘It is for you to imagine the reality’. But how can we imagine Auschwitz? What did it mean to be in Auschwitz?
This lecture examines elements of lived experience in Auschwitz that often remain hidden on the edges of historical visibility. It moves the spotlight from Auschwitz as a symbol of death to the historical reality of living and dying in the camp. Focusing on physical objects, the environment and human bodies, it examines a succession of spaces – buildings, boundaries, landscapes – that reveal subjective dimensions of perception and emotion in Auschwitz.
Professor Nikolaus Wachsmann teaches modern European History at Birkbeck College (University of London). He has written widely on Nazi terror, most recently KL: A history of the Nazi concentration camps (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2015), winner of the Wolfson Prize, the Mark Lynton History Prize, and the Jewish Quarterly-Wingate literary prize. He serves on the advisory boards of memorials in Sachsenhausen, Ravensbrück, Belsen and Mauthausen, and has devised an AHRC-supported educational website on the concentration camps.