“Symbols are things that all human beings need. We need them as a way to relate to the events of the past.”
Dr. Oren Baruch Stier
Dr. Oren Baruch Stier is Associate Professor of Religious Studies and Director of the Judaic Studies Program at Florida International University (Miami, Florida). He was in residence at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum as a Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies Fellow in 2004.
For his museum fellowship, Dr. Stier researched “Holocaust Symbols: The Icons of Memory.” His work examined the historical and cultural contexts of symbols commonly associated with the Holocaust, exploring how a variety of iconic images, including personalities, artifacts, texts and visual forms convey awareness of and associations with the Holocaust. With attention toward the basic symbolic building blocks of memorialization, his research focused on a range of images with which we are all familiar: railway cars, Anne Frank, yellow Stars of David, swastikas, and the Arbeit Macht Frei gates, among others.
My research project as a whole deals with Holocaust symbols... »
The issue of symbolization I think is a complicated one... »
One of the ways I try to understand how the specific issue... »
Symbols are things that all human beings need... »
As I’ve been looking at the issue of Holocaust symbolization... »
What happens when one takes a symbol out of its original context... »
The railway car at the Museum has a very interesting history... »
I think my work reflects back on the significance of the Holocaust indirectly... »
Since completing his fellowship, Dr. Stier has published an article in which he discusses Holocaust symbolization and memorialization, using the particular case of the display of Holocaust-era railway cars. Dr. Stier investigates the relationship between religion and the Holocaust by analyzing these boxcar displays in their institutional contexts. He argues that each railcar defines a distinct memorial ideology: initiatory, integrative, ambivalent, and monumental. By correlating the four ideologies developed here with four classic theological responses to the Holocaust, Dr. Stier offers a typology for analyzing Holocaust memorialization.
Read the full article (PDF), “Different Trains: Holocaust Artifacts and the Ideologies of Remembrance” (Holocaust and Genocide Studies, Volume 19, Number 1, Spring 2005, pp. 81-106)
The Museum’s online Holocaust Encyclopedia has the following short articles related to this topic: