Toward an Economic History of Holocaust Memory

Two Cases from Post-War Austria


  • Ari Joskowicz Vanderbilt University



Holocaust Memory, Funding, Financing, Economics, Exhibitions, Philanthropy, Simon Wiesenthal


Scholars working in the field of Holocaust Studies rarely centre questions of money in their studies of Holocaust memory and memorialisation. This reticence is understandable given how easily such approaches devolve into cynical and reductionist readings of complex and painful historical phenomena. Yet, it also leaves us without sufficient research tools, and information, about the role that economics has played in creating and sustaining public awareness of the Nazi genocide in the post-World War Two era. This article represents an initial attempt to explore how we might responsibly undertake an economic history of Holocaust memory, focusing on two case studies from post-war Austria. In my discussion of the large “Antifascist Exhibition ‘Niemals vergessen!’” (“Never Forget”) that opened in Vienna in 1946, I suggest that the price people are willing to pay for memory-related activities can help us gauge their affective investment. Turning to the case of Simon Wiesenthal’s fundraising and philanthropic efforts throughout the 1960s, I then illuminate how the very act of fundraising can serve as a communal act of memorialisation.

Author Biography

Ari Joskowicz, Vanderbilt University

Ari Joskowicz is Associate Professor of Jewish Studies and History at Vanderbilt University. He is the author of Rain of Ash: Roma, Jews, and the Holocaust (Princeton University Press, 2023) and The Modernity of Others: Jewish Anti-Catholicism in Germany and France (Stanford University Press, 2014), and editor of Secularism in Question: Jews and Judaism in Modern Times (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2015). He has held fellowships from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, the Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Judaic Studies, the Vienna Wiesenthal Institute for Holocaust Studies, and the American Council of Learned Societies, among others.


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How to Cite

Joskowicz, Ari. 2023. “Toward an Economic History of Holocaust Memory: Two Cases from Post-War Austria”. S: I.M.O.N. Shoah: Intervention. Methods. Documentation. 10 (1):23-36.