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Sounds of anti-Jewish persecution

English title Sounds of anti-Jewish persecution
Applicant Gerlach Christian
Number 172597
Funding scheme Project funding (Div. I-III)
Research institution Historisches Institut Universität Bern
Institution of higher education University of Berne - BE
Main discipline General history (without pre-and early history)
Start/End 01.09.2017 - 31.05.2021
Approved amount 983'474.00
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Keywords (5)

memory and representation of sounds; sound history; mass violence; persecution of Jews; history of everyday life

Lay Summary (German)

Lead
Kurzbeschreibung
Lay summary
Mit Bezug auf die interdisziplinären sound studies rekonstruiert dieses historische Projekt umfassend die Klangwelt, in der verfolgte Jüdinnen und Juden 1933-1945 lebten. Auf dieser Basis sollen neue Erkenntnisse über Herrschaftsbeziehungen, vielfältige soziale Beziehungen, Alltag, Emotionen und Erfahrung, kollektives Handeln, Überlebensstrategien und Subjektivität gewonnen werden. Dabei geht es um alle Arten von Geräuschen wie Schiessen, Kriegslärm, mechanische Geräusche (z.B. Fahrzeuge, Maschinen), reproduzierte oder elektrisch verstärkte Klänge, akustische Alarm- und Befehlssignale, Naturklänge und um Stimmen und ihre Variationen (Schreien, Flüstern, Schweigen, Weinen, Singen, Beten, Streit, Sprech- und Weinverbote usw.). Musik wird für das Projekt allenfalls am Rande eine Rolle spielen. Gegenstand der Untersuchung sind auch Wahrnehmung und Darstellung von Klängen sowie teilweise die Erinnerung daran, einschliesslich entsprechender Unterschiede nach sozialer Stellung, Region, Kultur, Geschlecht und Alter, und narrative Muster. Das Vorhaben – angelegt als transnationale und nicht primär als deutsche Geschichte – basiert auf der Auswertung von Textquellen (weitgehend Egodokumenten), die sich je nach Teilprojekt unterscheiden werden (Überlebendenberichte aus der unmittelbaren Nachkriegszeit/Tagebücher/zeitgenössische Berichte). Der Quellengrundlage entsprechend, wird auch die thematische Ausrichtung der Teilprojekte variieren.
Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 26.05.2017

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Abstract

This pioneering project taps a new layer of information, an un-perspective, of experiences under the threat of mass violence. Through researching the depiction of sounds in several kinds of texts written by Jews persecuted in the 1930s and 1940s, this project aims at a substantial contribution to the social and political history of that persecution, the history of everday life and the history of the emotions involved. The history of sounds is a relatively young field, and with few exceptions (music in particular) this approach has not been applied to research about this persecution and extermination and, as far as we can see, about any case of mass violence.The project is based on conclusions from sound studies saying that sounds reflect social conditions and relations, serve for community-building and that, for the individual, hearing is of an existential, often upsetting character because sound waves permeate the body. Sound studies have focused much on technical sounds and music but have in part also been broadened to explore the everyday that is of importance here. The project also takes up recent tendencies to examine the social history of mass violence and, as for the persecution of the European Jews during World War II, to move toward a history of social relations, subjectivity, resilience and survival strategies.This project is not primarily devoted to German history. Rather it offers a transnational history of experiences of people from various European countries under persecution. It is about more than passive perception, inter alia examining sound-generating collective action of persecuted Jews and its limitations.The three sub-projects involved will be based on different sources, all of which are in abundant supply. One deals with personal diaries written under persecution, the second with contemporary reports by Jews that were meant to document the situation and the third with early post-liberation recollections by survivors. Accordingly, the sub-projects will explore different aspects of the topic; for example, the sounds mentioned in diaries inform readers about everyday life and conflicts within Jewish populations while those in postwar accounts put an emphasis on the most dramatic confrontations during ghettoization, raids, deportation, the death of close relatives or the separation from them, mass shootings and gassings.Narratives and textual representations of sounds are also subject to this proposed study. Given that most descriptions of sounds used here were made post-factum, this project will also inquire into the selectivity of memory related to sounds. The large number of available souces and their diversity facilitates comparisons between different sorts of texts and different social groups in a wider sense, which is useful to identify variations of experience, memory and representation.
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