Borbála Klacsmann (University College Dublin): Invisibilizing Responsibility: The Holocaust Museums of Slovakia and Hungary

Facing and coming to terms with the past in post-Holocaust Europe has not only been a moral imperative but also a challenge in scientific, political and social senses. This process was delayed significantly in socialist countries. A part of the development of a post-socialist commemorative structure was the establishment of Holocaust museums which not only serve as a memento of the past but also provide an institutional framework for memorialization, research and education about the Holocaust. However, nationalist political forces jeopardize this process by attempting to whitewash the past in order to preserve a positive picture of the nation.
In this presentation, I will compare the permanent exhibitions of three museums from Slovakia and Hungary in order to illuminate how this struggle influences their exhibition narratives and activities. After examining the narrative strategies of the exhibitions and conducting interviews with museum personnel of the Holocaust Memorial Center (Budapest), the House of Jewish Excellencies (Balatonfüred) and the Sereď Holocaust Museum, it can be inferred that especially the way collaboration, perpetration, and in general, the role of the local non-Jewish population is depicted (or obscured), is inextricably intertwined with political agendas.