Material Witness: Conservation Ethics and the Scrolls of Auschwitz

Material Witness: Conservation Ethics and the Scrolls of Auschwitz Not only the words that were written but our knowledge of the context of their writing, preservation, and discovery envelop each text with different layers of meaning.1 Introduction: The Matter The documents commonly referred to as the "Scrolls of Auschwitz" comprise a variety of writings composed by members of the Sonderkommando, a group of predominantly Jewish prisoners who were tasked with the smooth-running of the crematoria at Auschwitz-Birkenau.2 The writings, which were penned in a period between 1943 and 1944, were produced for a variety of reasons but principally to bear witness to the horrors of the extermination-camp. They were concealed in the grounds of the crematoria in 1944. Between 1945 and 1980, eight caches of these documents by five known authors were recovered. The texts include lengthy witness accounts written in Yiddish, letters in Greek and French, and a list of murdered transports written in Polish. Several of the documents, two compositions by Lejb Langfus, two compositions by Zalman Lewental, a letter by Marcel Nadjary and the list, are now held in the archives of the Auschwitz Museum.3 This group of diverse writings and the ways in which their materiality contributes to their power as forms of http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png symploke University of Nebraska Press

Material Witness: Conservation Ethics and the Scrolls of Auschwitz

symploke, Volume 24 (1) – Jan 8, 2016

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Publisher
University of Nebraska Press
Copyright
Copyright © 2008 symploke.
ISSN
1534-0627
Publisher site
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Abstract

Not only the words that were written but our knowledge of the context of their writing, preservation, and discovery envelop each text with different layers of meaning.1 Introduction: The Matter The documents commonly referred to as the "Scrolls of Auschwitz" comprise a variety of writings composed by members of the Sonderkommando, a group of predominantly Jewish prisoners who were tasked with the smooth-running of the crematoria at Auschwitz-Birkenau.2 The writings, which were penned in a period between 1943 and 1944, were produced for a variety of reasons but principally to bear witness to the horrors of the extermination-camp. They were concealed in the grounds of the crematoria in 1944. Between 1945 and 1980, eight caches of these documents by five known authors were recovered. The texts include lengthy witness accounts written in Yiddish, letters in Greek and French, and a list of murdered transports written in Polish. Several of the documents, two compositions by Lejb Langfus, two compositions by Zalman Lewental, a letter by Marcel Nadjary and the list, are now held in the archives of the Auschwitz Museum.3 This group of diverse writings and the ways in which their materiality contributes to their power as forms of

Journal

symplokeUniversity of Nebraska Press

Published: Jan 8, 2016

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