History in the Making

Document Type



Modernity’s largest episode of mass killing occurred between the years 1931 to 1945, throughout which over forty-five million people died. The Holocaust, the Nazi experiment into industrialized mass murder during World War II, was responsible for a significant portion of these deaths, including the deaths of six million Jews, from which the term “genocide” was coined. Experiences documented by hundreds of survivors can be seen in documentaries and films or read about in books. But the psychology behind the testimonies is not so often discussed. This essay will use Harvard-educated professor and Holocaust scholar Lawrence Langer’s Holocaust Testimonies: The Ruins of Memory as a framework for investigating examples of the five types of memories recorded in eight books by seven Holocaust survivors. By understanding the five different types of memory (deep, anguished, humiliated, tainted, and unheroic) expressed by Holocaust survivors in their testimony, one can better understand the psychological and physical implications of the Holocaust on a deeper level.