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“To write for the others, how it was” – Shaping the Narrative of Dachau

The Dachau Memorial as presented today is the result of a decade-long struggle to properly represent the history of the Dachau Concentration Camp. At the core of all considerations, most agree it should be a true representation of the suffering of the former captives.

How we talk about the Holocaust and the idea of atrocity in living memory is changing as we enter a world without witnesses, and for the past two decades the “end of witnesses” has been negotiated as a turning point in memory-politics. The authority of witness testimony is meant to guarantee the authenticity of what happened and is intended to immunise against forms of discrimination. Repeatedly at ceremonies in Dachau politicians have obliged survivors to report their experiences as long as they can, in order to inscribe “Never Again!” as an irrefutable promise of the broadest possible transnational public into the minds of future generations.

This talk by Andre Scharf, Archivist at Dachau Memorial, aims to tell an incomplete story of survivors’ agency in the context of shaping the narrative of Dachau concentration camp, emphasizing particular stories and using material from the Dachau Memorial collection. The focus lies on the diversity of survivors’ perspectives in a contemporary-historical perspective.