Uncovering a Painful Past: Archaeology and the Holocaust

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STURDY COLLS, Caroline (2015)

Places connected to the Holocaust, and the physical evidence that lies within them, survive as reminders of the crimes perpetrated by the Nazis. Both the treatment of these sites and attitudes towards them have varied considerably in the years since the Second World War. In recent years, a number of archaeological investigations have been instigated by curators at Holocaust sites in a direct attempt to enhance visitor experiences and education programmes. Archaeologists have initiated investigations at other forgotten and dilapidated sites in an attempt to raise awareness of these places. This paper will discuss two case study sites where archaeological investigations have been undertaken and where attempts have been made to inform conservation, heritage management and education strategies. It will highlight the various challenges that may arise in the course of developing dissemination tools and discuss strategies that have been adopted to account for them. Specifically it will focus on how archaeologists can present novel means by which to locate, record and re-present the physical evidence of the Holocaust and how they can tell the stories of difficult heritage sites even when traditional forms of memorialisation/muzealisation is not wanted or practical.
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