Contemporary history of Luxembourg Contemporary history of Europe Digital history & historiography

Transmission of Collective Memory nad Jewish Identity in Postwar Jewish Generations through War Souvenirs

My contribution includes a sample of testimonies containing the life stories of Jews born in the aftermath of World War II in two countries (Czechoslovakia and Luxembourg). At that time, Czechoslovakian Jews were living through the era of de-Stalinisation, and their narratives offer new insights into this segment of Jewish postwar history that differ from those of Jews living in liberal democratic European states. Based on personal documents, photos, letters and souvenirs, the conducted interviews highlight an interesting way of maintaining personal memories in Jewish families and how this varies from one generation to the next. In my contribution, I am planning to illustrate the importance of these small artefacts for the transmission of Jewish collective memory.
My presentation showcases people widely referred to as the “second and third Jewish generation”, their attitude to current notions of Jewish memory and self-perception and their role in society. Some had to live under totalitarian oppression, others had to face a wave of Jewish Sephardic immigrants coming from overseas – and witnesses admit that the arrival of these newcomers often caused difficulties in Jewish communities. Small objects from the war, often displayed in their households, serve as a reminder of their roots and destiny, which should not be forgotten.
This paper is a part of my broader research project examining distinctions and similarities in identity formation through generations of Czech, Slovak, French and Luxembourgish Jews, who grew up either under communism or in liberal Western Europe. The aim is to create an international virtual library and cloud storage, not only for professional educators but also for the public.

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