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Title: Holocaust Remembrance, or Lack Thereof: An Analysis of Changes in Holocaust Portrayal in Polish and German History Textbooks, World War II–Present
Authors: Burghardt, Olenka
Advisors: Kotkin, Stephen
Department: Woodrow Wilson School
Class Year: 2020
Abstract: Historical memory has long been a subject of contention, especially when it pertains to the Holocaust. In 2000, a book titled Neighbors: The Destruction of the Jewish Community in Jedwabne, Poland, written by Jan Gross, was published, prompting renewed conversation on the subject of complicity, responsibility, and understanding of history. Through this thesis, I hope to contribute to this discussion by analyzing the ways in which countries—specifically, Poland and Germany—portray the Holocaust, and looking at various factors that might impact that portrayal. My research relied primarily on textbook analysis, focusing on textbooks published between World War II and the present. I studied secondary school history textbooks from Poland and Germany, noting changes in textbook content and scope relating to the Holocaust. Through my research, I hoped to find not only how and when Poland and Germany have changed their portrayal of the Holocaust over time, but also to determine what factors may have led to those changes. Initially, I expected changes in textbooks to primarily occur alongside changes in politics. However, while some changes in textbook content followed political transformations, other changes occurred during times of relative political peace and stability. Textbook analysis revealed that both Poland and Germany are increasing emphasis on the Holocaust; this is particularly true of more recent decades. After consideration of various political and cultural factors that do appear to influence countries’ portrayals of the Holocaust, I conclude that countries’ participation in international organizations is perhaps one of the most influential factors on this topic. Both Poland’s and Germany’s participation in organizations such as the European Union helps explain why textbook content between the two countries has become increasingly similar. The findings described in this thesis underscore the growing influence of the globalization of historical memory.
Type of Material: Princeton University Senior Theses
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Princeton School of Public and International Affairs, 1929-2020

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