First Advisor

Carrie Collenberg-González

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in World Languages & Literatures: German and University Honors


World Languages and Literatures




Holocaust memorials -- United States, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Collective memory, Jewish Holocaust (1939-1945)




Memorials, both formal and informal, both private and public, have long participated in the pursuit to honor the victims of tragedy, disaster, or genocide. Memorial museums serve both to memorialize victims and to foster an environment conducive to reflection and education about these stories. Such memorial museums have especially made their mark after one of the most notable and devastating genocide events in history: the Holocaust in twentieth-century Europe. This thesis examines how memorialization methods utilized by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM) make up the American interpretation of Vergangenheitsbewältigung, the concept typically applied to how Germans deal with or face the aftermath of the Second World War.

A wide body of sources and a research visit to the museum where I was able to witness these methods in practice inform my organization of the chapters. Chapter one examines the different classifications artifacts may fall into and the impact of the USHMM’s artifact inclusion. Chapter two addresses the framing methods used to contextualize these artifacts within the museum’s overall message; and chapter three discusses the concept of collective memory and how the USHMM’s reliance on and transmission of a collective Holocaust narrative plays a role in the museum’s overall message. In conclusion, I frame these methods of memorialization at the USHMM in our contemporary climate regarding monuments, memorialization, and the representation of history in the United States.


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