Selling the Holocaust: From Auschwitz to Schindler; How History Is Bought, Packaged and Sold

Tim Cole, Author Routledge $50 (240p) ISBN 978-0-415-92581-5
In 1997, the Bee Gees toured Anne Frank's house in Amsterdam, along with 700,000 other bubble-gum chewing, minicam-clutching voyeurs. A man was spotted at Auschwitz wearing, with supreme irony, a Megadeth T-shirt. Gifted with a sensitive understanding of the Holocaust, Cole, history professor at the University of Bristol, sets out to parse the shifting myths created from the historical event of the Holocaust, especially its morphing into a ubiquitous, feel-good affirmation of America's core values. In seeking to understand the subtle implications of marketing remembrance, Cole focuses on three figures--Anne Frank, Adolph Eichmann and Oskar Schindler--and three sites--Auschwitz, Yad Vashem (Israel's Holocaust museum in Jerusalem) and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. What does it mean when Schindler's List becomes a de facto primary historical text, or when the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (where Cole is a visiting fellow) is just one more item on an itinerary that includes the peep show thrills of the Texas Book Depository and Graceland? At a time when tourists flock to the Spielberg film location rather than to the actual ghetto, argues Cole, the Holocaust has been turned into a sort of virtual history. Cole's book makes an excellent complement to Peter Novick's superb The Holocaust in American Life (Forecasts, May 3), with which it shares an informed wariness about the perils of historical representation. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 08/02/1999
Release date: 08/01/1999
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 214 pages - 978-0-415-92813-7
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