Bewaard voor de toekomst
: De herinneringscultuur van de Birkenau-boys

Translated title of the thesis: Preserved for the future: The memory culture of the Birkenau-boys
  • Angela Poort

    Student thesis: Master's Thesis


    This master’s thesis deals with a group of originally 90 boys selected by camp doctor Mengele at Auschwitz-Birkenau in 1994. Using the concept of memory culture, the coping with their camp past is analyzed. The central question is: How can changes in the transnational memory culture of the so-called Birkenau-boys since 1989 be explained? Memory culture assumes an interaction of memories as sources of knowledge about the past, between individuals, groups and institutions that identify with it; between media that communicates it and between the contexts within which this is expressed. The social aspect of the Birkenau-Boys as memory producers and their memory consumers was examined. Memory media about the Birkenau-boys, such as three documentaries and their testimonials and memoirs were examined within national and transnational contexts.
    The attention on the Birkenau-boys coincided with a growing international interest in the Holocaust after 1989. Especially in the Netherlands, Belgium, the Czech Republic and North America, television channels, publishers and their audiences were interested. In Belgium and the Czech Republic, there was interest from the government. Other memory consumers were the major international heritage institutions.
    The Birkenau-boys did not stand out when it came to the Holocaust survivor as a cultural figure, but they evolved along with the international rise of this phenomenon. They came together in a post-1989 period when the differences between national cultures of Holocaust memory were no longer so great and under the influence of media became increasingly homogeneous and transnational.
    The national handling of the Holocaust in The Netherlands, Belgium and North America, the transnational discourse of the representation of the Holocaust and the development of the genre of the Holocaust film, influenced the documentaries about the Birkenau-boys. Clichés within this genre made the films more homogeneous and commercial.
    In their last active phase between 2000 and 2010, the Birkenau-boys hardly kept up with transnational developments in Holocaust remembrance. Camp memories of the Birkenau-boys have officially become part of the transnational discourse of Holocaust remembrance and can be accessed through digital data systems.
    Date of Award4 Jul 2023
    Original languageDutch
    SupervisorSusan Hogervorst (Supervisor) & Gemma Blok (Examiner)


    • cultuurgeschiedenis
    • Birkenau-boys

    Master's Degree

    • Master Kunst en Cultuurwetenschappen

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