View of the main entrance to the Auschwitz camp: "Arbeit Macht Frei" (Work makes one free). Auschwitz, Poland, date uncertain.
Instytut Pamieci Narodowej
Dr. Oren Baruch Stier 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 images with which we are all familiar: Anne Frank, yellow Stars of David, and the Arbeit Macht Frei gates, among others.
Abstract for Dr. Stier's article "Different Trains: Holocaust Artifacts and the Ideologies of Remembrance" (Holocaust and Genocide Studies, Volume 19, Number 1, Spring 2005, pp. 81-106):
Using four Holocaust-era railway cars displayed in four distinct museological settings, this article examines Holocaust symbolism and memorialization. In the context of a broad, cultural understanding of religion, an understanding that goes beyond theological reflection, the author investigates the relationship between religion and the Holocaust by closely analyzing these boxcar displays in their institutional contexts. Considering the placement and presentation of the railcars, he argues that each railcar defines a distinct memorial ideology: initiatory, integrative, ambivalent, and monumental. Furthermore, each ideology reflects and reinforces a symbolic strategy for Holocaust representation and memorialization in contemporary society. By correlating the four ideologies developed here with four classic theological responses to the Holocaust, the author offers a typology for analyzing Holocaust memorialization.