The issue of symbolization I think is a complicated one. We can look for example at a lot of anthropological literature to give us some sense of how human beings work with symbols, all humans deal with symbols, some of the most well known for example would be a flag, a nation’s flag, which really serves as a condensation or a distillation of everything that an individual thinks of as they relate to their nation or their country when they see the flag waving, all of those emotions come up, all of those associations come up, and yet the flag is really just a simple piece of fabric with some simple color scheme or some simple kind of representation on it. So when I’m talking about symbolization I’m really looking in the same way in this case at how the Holocaust is symbolized. What are well not the flags of the Holocaust but the basic ways that the Holocaust is represented in this distilled, crystallized way.
For his Museum fellowship in 2004, Dr. Oren Baruch Stier conducted research for his project “Holocaust Symbols: The Icons of Memory,” examining the historical and cultural contexts of symbols commonly associated with the Holocaust and exploring how a variety of iconic images, including personalities, artifacts, texts, and visual forms, convey awareness of and associations with the Holocaust.
Dr. Stier is Associate Professor of Religious Studies and Director of the Judaic Studies Program at Florida International University in Miami.