Amending the Past
Europe's Holocaust Commissions and the Right to History
Alexander Karn
University of Wisconsin Press
352 pages
Pub Date: 07/18/2017
ISBN:  978-0-299-31324-1
Last Import Date: 12/08/2017
Last Cover Upload Date: 03/20/2017
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About The Author
Alexander Karn is an associate professor in the Department of History at Colgate University. He is the coeditor of Taking Wrongs Seriously: Apologies and Reconciliation.
About This Book
During the 1990s and early 2000s in Europe, more than fifty historical commissions were created to confront, discuss, and document the genocide of the Holocaust and to address some of its unresolved injustices. Amending the Past offers the first in-depth account of these commissions, examining the complexities of reckoning with past atrocities and large-scale human rights violations.

Alexander Karn analyzes more than a dozen Holocaust commissions—in Germany, Switzerland, France, Poland, Austria, Latvia, Lithuania, and elsewhere—in a comparative framework, situating each in the context of past and present politics, to evaluate their potential for promoting justice and their capacity for bringing the perspectives of rival groups more closely together. Karn also evaluates the media coverage these commissions received and probes their public reception from multiple angles.

Arguing that historical commissions have been underused as a tool for conflict management, Karn develops a program for historical mediation and moral reparation that can deepen democratic commitment and strengthen human rights in both transitional regimes and existing liberal states.

Review Quotes
"Charged with excavating and exposing competing narratives of mass atrocities and their consequences, historical (truth) commissions have emerged as an important forum for conflict resolution. Alexander Karn's comparative scope stands out among a growing body of research providing a set of tools, relevant to both academics and activists."
—Daniel Levy, State University of New York, Stony Brook
"A very important contribution to the interdisciplinary scholarship on the broad theme of reckoning with histories of atrocity."—Bronwyn Leebaw, University of California, Riverside
Table of Contents

List of Abbreviations             


Introduction: Confronting the Holocaust as Historical Injustice                    


Part I. National Holocaust Commissions

1 France and Switzerland: Myths of Resistance and Neutrality                   

2 Poles and Jews: Mediating the Jedwabne Conflict             

3 Austria and Italy: The Reich and Its Allies            

4 Lithuania and Latvia: The Limits of "Double Genocide"               


Part II. Bilateral and International Commissions

5 Germany and Its Neighbors            

6 The International Commission on Holocaust-Era Insurance Claims                      

7 The International Catholic-Jewish Historical Commission            

Conclusion: Truth-Telling, Narrativity, and the Right to History                




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