Gray Areas: Olga Gershenson has unearthed a number of Soviet films that dealt with the fate of Jews during WWII. Among them was the film Professor Mamlock.
Courtesy of Olga Gershenson
Gray Areas: Olga Gershenson
has unearthed a number of Soviet films that dealt with the fate of Jews during WWII.
By Olga Gershenson
Rutgers University Press, 290 pages, $32.50
film, however, ought not to have been the film that introduced Russian audiences to the subject of the Holocaust, as Olga Gershenson's
pioneering book on the history of Holocaust representation in Soviet cinema suggests.
Gershenson, who is an associate professor of Judaic and Near Eastern studies at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, notes that Spielberg's film is indicative of larger ways in which the Holocaust is treated in Western cinema.
Namely, this film - like many other Holocaust films - emphasizes the experience of those who suffered and died in Auschwitz or in other concentration and death camps and consequently ignores the deaths of nearly half of all victims of the Holocaust who were rounded up and gunned down on Soviet territory before death camps, all of them located outside the borders of the USSR, were even operational.
Our visual vocabulary of the Holocaust - "emaciated bodies, striped uniforms, barbed wire, crematorium ovens, and mounds of personal effects," as Gershenson
summarizes it - is largely informed by the history of Western representation of the catastrophe.