How, Not If:
Remembrance in a Digital Era
Dr. Elisa Jochum, Goethe Institut
92-year-old Holocaust survivor Abba Naor and German high-school student Emely Fuchs created a profound moment that held the promise of continuous remembrance – 75 years after the last NS concentration camp was liberated and amid an increase in anti-Semitism in Germany and elsewhere. As part of a round-table discussion organised by the Goethe-Institut, Naor and Fuchs came together with Pawel Sawicki from the Auschwitz Memorial, Ernst Hüttl of LediZ (Learning with Digital Testimonies) and myself as the moderator to talk about remembrance in a digital age.
Digital memory in the shape of virtual-reality and three-dimensional tools has become topical in research and society as, in Sawicki’s words, “[r]ight now, we have the honour of meeting a Holocaust survivor, Mr Naor, but such conversations will not be possible anymore in twenty years.” At the same time, for young people like Fuchs – the generations upon whom future remembrance and a vocal stance against anti-Semitism will hinge – digital tools have become key to their understanding of the world. From childhood to old age, digital devices have been and will be shaping their lives.
Digital technology rendered the round-table discussion possible in the first place. After emails, WhatsApp messages and WhatsApp calls, we met in the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic in a Skype conference call, connecting us in Israel, Poland and Germany. Whereas this digitally afforded opportunity
I always wonder: do the children even believe me? Does it sound credible when a survivor recounts what they went through in a camp? I don’t know. I’m not in the children’s shoes.
I find what Mr Naor has just said quite remarkable, that as a survivor he worries about how others perceive his story and whether they even believe it. I think it’s a very moving experience to hear the words of a survivor. Of course you believe them.
Abba Naor’s work with LediZ © Bright White Ltd