After the Tempest: The Post-Holocaust years in the Netherlands and in Greece

Published: Jun 19, 2019
Post-Holocaust historiography memory testimony postwar
Henriette-Rika Benveniste
Pothiti Hantzaroula

This special issue of Historein offers new documentation and insights in a new area of historical research by contextualising different aspects of Jewish history in the Netherlands and in Greece: efforts to come to terms with sadness and loneliness due to the loss of the family, restitution struggles, disillusionment and hopes, persisting antisemitism, and political constraints. Any effort to better understand those years has to overcome traditional constraints and divisions between “internal” and “external” histories of the Jewish communities. Our issue points in the direction of the transnational approach. The dismantling of narratives that subsumed Jewish victims and their experiences under the general battle against fascism formed the basis for comparative studies that use various axes around which research questions revolve: time as a parameter for understanding the shifts in identities in relation to political and social contexts, the development of welfare politics that emerged as an antidote to the catastrophe, the generational experiences that established new memory frames, and the responses to conflicting memories. We need, at the same time, to remind ourselves that the demise of the “antifascist” narrative that shaped the postwar period was substituted by the “free market” one in European memories, which enabled the articulation of opinions whose expression was not accepted without difficulty in the public sphere. The rise of far-right movements across Europe makes all the more pertinent the comprehension of the economic exploitation and ideological factors that shaped conflicting memories. We hope that the research from the perspective of postwar Jewish experience and its comparative dimension paves the way for the enrichment of the research agenda and will allow us to better understand our contemporary world and those who made it.

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Author Biographies
Henriette-Rika Benveniste, University of Thessaly

Henriette-Rika Benveniste is Professor of European Medieval History at the University of Thessaly. She has published several articles on the judicial archives, on the relations between Jews and Christians in the Middle Ages and on the Historiography of the Holocaust. Her recent books are Από τους Βαρβάρους στους Μοντέρνους: Κοινωνική ιστορία και ιστοριογραφικά προβλήματα της μεσαιωνικής Δύσης [From the barbarians to the moderns: social history and historiography of the Middle Ages (Athens, 2007) and Αυτοί που επέζησαν: Αντίσταση, εκτόπιση, επιστροφή. Θεσσαλονικείς Εβραίοι στη δεκαετία του 1940 [Those who survived: resistance, deportation, return. Jews of Salonika in the 1940s] (2014) (in German as: Die Überlebenden. Widerstand, Deportation, Rückkehr. Juden aus Thessaloniki in den 1940er Jahren [Berlin, 2016]). Her research interests include historical anthropology of the Middle Ages, Jewish history and historiography, history of the Holocaust and postwar Jewish history.

Pothiti Hantzaroula, University of the Aegean
Pothiti Hantzaroula is Assistant Professor of Historical Anthropology at the Department of Social Anthropology and History at the University of the Aegean. She completed her PhD thesis in History at the European University Institute of Florence in 2002. Her thesis, entitled “The Making of Subordination: Domestic Service in Greece, 1920-1945”, is an oral history of domestic service in interwar Greece. She participated in the project “From the Inter-War Period to Reconstruction (1930-1960): Documenting the Experiences of the Greek Jews”, supervised by Henriette Benveniste (University of Thessaly) and funded by the John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation (2011). Among her publications is Σμιλεύοντας την υποταγή: Οι έμμισθες οικιακές εργάτριες στην Ελλάδα το πρώτο μισό του εικοστού αιώνα [Sculpting subordination: Waged domestic workers in Greece in the first half of the twentieth century] (Athens: Papazissi, 2012). Her research interests include the history and historiography of gender and sexuality, intersections of class and gender, memory and history in the Second World War, and the history of emotions. She has translated Benedict Anderson’s Imagined Communities into Greek (Φαντασιακές κοινότητες, Athens: Nefeli, 1996).
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