This essay examines how two French individuals in the third generation
of Holocaust victims/survivors, Christophe Boltanski and Ivan
Jablonka, research and present their grandparents and how they challenge
contemporary memory culture. Their works differ in their ambitions and the
strategies used to achieve them, but both Boltanski and Jablonka take the
most disrespected of historical genres, the history of the author’s family, and
reveal its potential in an arena where the duty to remember what was done
to Jews as a group can obscure the complex individuals who were victims.
These forgotten selves and what they reveal about the societies in which they
lived are the subject of Boltanski’s and Jablonka’s work. Particular attention
is devoted to the Communist parties in Poland and France and the relations
of their grandparents to them.