Date: 02 December 2014
In conjunction with the Cambridge University East Asia Seminar Series, we invited Dr. Ran Zwigenberg from Penn State to deliver a talk on December 02, 2014 concerning the topic: From the Ashes: Hiroshima, the Holocaust and the Rise of the “Survivor” as a Moral Category. Much of this material was focused on his new book, Hiroshima: The Origins of Global Memory Culture (Cambridge University Press, 2014).
As Dr. Zwingenberg detailed, on February 6, 1963, Hiroshima’s main newspaper, the Chūgoku Shimbun, published an account of an exchange of A-bomb and Holocaust relics between a Hiroshima peace delegation and an Auschwitz survivors’ organization. The exchange, which took place on the site of Auschwitz, at Birkenau, also included actual ashes and bones of Auschwitz victims, given to the Japanese by their Polish hosts. This symbolic encounter, in which the dead were literally conscripted in the service of the politics of the living, serves as a focal point of his presentation. He examined the peculiar history in Hiroshima and abroad, which led to this encounter and followed it, concentrating on the narratives of sacrifice and victimization that were central to the postwar reimagining of the atomic bomb survivors as symbols of resistance and as moral authorities in the Japanese and international peace movements, and to the wider connections of this history to that of victims of the Holocaust.