Framing the Witness

The Memorial Role of Holocaust Videotestimonies
  • Oren Baruch Stier


The video begins with familiar material: images from newsreels, old photographs, melancholy music, all evoking the difficult and disturbing history of the Holocaust. A disembodied voice comes over the images, sounding vaguely familiar. Soon, the images fade and are replaced by that of a distinguished-looking gentleman walking slowly through a high-tech media centre. And then we recognize him: Ben Kingsley, well-known actor and recent co-star of the Holocaust blockbuster Schindler’s List. Though he looks ‘normal’ in this setting, we cannot help but think of him in his movie persona, Yitzhak Stern, the paradigmatic Jew of the film, standing-in then (and now?) for the impersonal mass of Jewish suffering of the Shoah. In this appearance, Kingsley represents, perhaps, the doubled (though in this case assumed) identity of the survivor, embodying two distinct strains of lived and remembered experience: life then, ‘over there’, and life now, ‘over here’. The blurring and confusion is intentional: we are meant to conflate the two roles Kingsley plays and understand something about the frames of reference this video offers as a result.


Television Screen Holocaust Education Holocaust Memory Testimonial Process Promotional Video 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 4.
    Andreas Huyssen, ‘Monument and Memory in a Postmodern Age’, in The Art of Memory: Holocaust Memorials in History, ed. James E. Young (New York: The Jewish Museum, 1994), p.11.Google Scholar
  2. 6.
    James E. Young, Writing and Rewriting the Holocaust: Narrative and the Consequences of Interpretation (Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 1988), p.159.Google Scholar
  3. 16.
    Lawrence L. Langer, ‘Memory’s Time: Chronology and Duration in Holocaust Testimonies’, in The Yale Journal of Criticism 6, no. 2 (fall 1993): 268–9.Google Scholar
  4. 17.
    Dori Laub, ‘Bearing Witness, or the Vicissitudes of Listening’, in Shoshana Felman and Dori Laub, Testimony: Crises of Witnessing in Literature, Psychoanalysis, and History (NY and London: Routledge, 1992), p.65.Google Scholar
  5. 22.
    Lawrence L. Langer, Holocaust Testimonies: The Ruins of Memory (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1991), p.174.Google Scholar
  6. 37.
    Jacques Derrida, Archive Fever: A Freudian Impression, trans. Eric Prenowitz (Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 1995), p.7.Google Scholar
  7. 41.
    Geoffrey H. Hartman, ‘The Cinema Animal’, in Yosefa Loshitsky, ed., Spielberg’s Holocaust: Critical Perspectives on Schindler’s List (Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 1997), p.70.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • Oren Baruch Stier

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations