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Kerstin Steitz
Old Dominion University Research Foundation (Norfolk, VA 23508-0369)
Holocaust Truth and Justice: Literary and Filmic Criticism of the Frankfurt Auschwitz Trial (1963-1965)

Research and writing leading to publication of a book about literary and film interpretations of the Frankfurt Auschwitz Trial (1963-1965), the first major Holocaust trial in postwar Germany.

Between 1963 and 1965, twenty-two men who participated in mass murder at the Auschwitz concentration camps were prosecuted in what became known as the Frankfurt Auschwitz Trial, the first major Holocaust trial in postwar Germany. The proceedings revealed, however, that German criminal law was not equipped to deal adequately with the genocide that occurred at Auschwitz. Instead it treated the Nazi atrocities as ordinary murder and manslaughter cases, which trivialized genocide. The book I will complete with a National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Stipend exposes how authors and filmmakers revisit the trial, teaching lessons that it misrepresented with regard to the origins of the Holocaust, the conditions in the camps, the guilt of the perpetrators, and the suffering of the victims. The significance of my work thus reveals how art succeeded where law failed in holding the German public accountable for the Holocaust and in crafting a memory culture of genocide.

Project fields:
German Literature; History, Other; Jewish Studies

Summer Stipends

Research Programs

$6,000 (approved)
$6,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
5/15/2019 – 7/15/2019