Julie Wheelwright

The ethical turn in considering hidden children's Holocaust testimony as historical reconstruction

How to balance respect for the testimonial quality of post-Holocaust memoirs while critically analysing their value as historical witness statements? This question is explored through the author's experience of collaborating on a memoir project with a Jewish subject who, as a child, was hidden in a Catholic convent in Belgium during the Second World War. Using the concepts of 'collective memory, memory makers and memory consumers', the author argues that witness statements are most valuable when read and understood within broader issues of political and historical structures. Using the example of Hidden Children's testimony, the author examines how a range of historical actors can be acknowledged and appropriately recognised by comparing memories and by including appropriate contextual detail. The paper points to future research questions into how post-Holocaust memoirs are received and understood as historical artifacts by memory consumers.

Keywords: memory studies, hidden children, Belgium, post-Holocaust narratives


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Note on the contributor

Julie Wheelwright is a senior lecturer in journalism at City University London. She is the author of three books, Amazons and military maids: Women who dressed as men in pursuit of life, liberty and happiness, The fatal lover: Mata Hari and the myth of women in espionage and most recently, Esther: The remarkable true story of Esther Wheelwright. A former journalist and broadcaster, her research interests include the transmission of history in popular media, gendered readings of women at war and memoir as a historical source text.