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.
Donald Reid is Professor of History at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is the author of Germaine Tillion, Lucie Aubrac, and the Politics of Memories of the French Resistance and several works in the history of French labor, including Opening the Gates: The Lip Affair, 1968–1981. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org