SELLING THE HOLOCAUST by Tim Cole

SELLING THE HOLOCAUST

From Auschwitz to Schindler, How History Is Bought, Packaged, and Sold

KIRKUS REVIEW

A thoughtful and brave study of how the Holocaust has become an overly central myth and too commercialized for its own effectiveness. Cole is a fellow at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum and is well positioned to know that there is no business like Shoah (Holocaust) business. The book grew from lectures at the University of Bristol in England, whence its youthful brazenness to criticize the sacrosanct. Holocaustism as an industry is shown to dwarf the budget of other, especially educational needs in the American Jewish community. The three people whom the first chapters are named for reflect Cole’s vision of Holocaust history. First is Anne Frank, the most famous child and victim in our century. In 1947, long before her book, Broadway show, and Amsterdam attic became global sensations, the diary’s modest popularity reflected the Jewish and gentile mood that the unspeakable tragedy was best not spoken about. Even in Israel, where the Holocaust became a flag of victimhood and cause for national survival, the yet unnamed calamity was associated with the powerless Diaspora past and neglected—until the capture and trial of Adolf Eichmann (Cole’s second chapter). Not mere revenge, this “trial was about reawakening a concern with the Holocaust both inside and outside the country.” So successful was exhuming the Holocaust from buried memory that the next chapter, “Oskar Schindler,” shows how Hollywood turned planet Auschwitz into a well known but more benign place. The last three chapters are named for places, “Auschwitz,” “Yad Vashem,” and “The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum,” where Cole scores salient points contrasting the sites of genocide (now with tourist cafeteria), the Israeli museum (emphasizing partisans and resistance), and the “theme-park” $168-million-dollar facility in Washington, D.C. (featuring multimedia experiences and nondenominational tolerance). Cole dares to write “that an element of voyeurism is central to “Holocaust tourism.” “ If the Holocaust has assumed our century’s moral crown, this book dares to challenge the emperor’s clothes.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1999
ISBN: 0-415-92581-9
Page count: 224pp
Publisher: Routledge
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1st, 1999




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