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Holocaust remembrance in Denmark

– A research of the historical culture of the Auschwitz Day


 

Master thesis by Astrid Louise Hylager Larsen


 
 


In this thesis I investigate how the international agreement from the Holocaust Conference in year 2000 (The Declaration of the Stockholm International Forum on the Holocaust) of creating “an annual Day of Holocaust Remembrance, in our countries” was and is interpreted in Denmark.

The international agreement was a political manifestation of the transnational Holocaust remembrance; the idea that the Holocaust remembrance has become the antithesis of a new and international future. In this thesis it will be further examined how the transnational memory is presented in Denmark on Auschwitz Day.

Through a thorough analysis of the creation of the Auschwitz Day and its contemporary version it is also possible to answer the question why the “annual Day of Holocaust Remembrance” became and still is “Auschwitz Day, the official Day of Holocaust and Genocide Remembrance in Denmark” represented as both a memorial ceremony and educational undertaking.

Auschwitz Day is a political decision, and the analysis of the Danish historical culture therefore focuses on discussing how the Holocaust is officially interpreted. In the end of this analysis it is discussed whether or not the historical culture of the Holocaust on Auschwitz Day corresponds with the transnational Holocaust remembrance.
 
The analysis of the Auschwitz Day makes clear that many national players, as well as structures, complicate the implementation of the transnational Holocaust remembrance in Denmark. Politicians, experts, and interest groups have to come to an agreement in the creation of the day, but the many different views of the importance and representation of the Holocaust in Danish historical culture end up being a compromise between the different views.

The Remembrance Day is a compromise between a memorial ceremony and an educational purpose, between Holocaust and other genocides, and between national and international ways of interpreting the past. As to the structural obstacles, the rescue  of the Danish Jews in October 1943 and the general opposition in the Danish public to  memorial ceremonies also play an important part in the failed integration of the international Holocaust narrative. Because of the many compromises it becomes unclear what part the Holocaust as a historical event actually plays in the Auschwitz Day.

Whereas The Declaration of the Stockholm International Forum on the Holocaust  was aiming at integrating the transnational Holocaust remembrance in the particular national narratives, the analysis of the Auschwitz Day makes clear that the Holocaust remembrance in Denmark has a distinctive international character and therefore is not  integrated in neither the Danish history of the Second World War nor the Danish historical culture.


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Opdateret: 22-02-11