How Memory Survives: Descendants of Holocaust Survivors and the Progenic Tattoo

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The impact of the Holocaust on the descendants of survivors and the ways in which they embrace, embody and memorialise their family histories is the subject of this paper. The paper explores intergenerational storytelling and silences about the Holocaust through the lens of the number that was tattooed on the bodies of inmates in the Auschwitz complex and has been replicated on the bodies of some survivor descendants. The number has become a symbol of the crimes of the Holocaust though its meaning has changed during different periods of Holocaust remembrance. Using the genealogy of the tattoo, this paper explores its meaning in relation to private and public memorialisation for the descendants of survivors living in Israel who have replicated the number on their own body. An earlier version of this paper was presented in December 2020 at La Trobe University’s Agnes Heller Annual Sociology Lecture.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)107-122
Number of pages16
JournalThesis Eleven
Issue number1
Early online date7 Sept 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2022


  • Holocaust
  • intergenerational memory
  • memorialisation
  • tattoos


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