“This is Proof”? Forensic Evidence and Ambiguous Material Culture at Treblinka Extermination Camp
In recent years, a forensic archaeological project at Treblinka extermination camp has uncovered significant evidence relating to the mass murder that took place there. A number of questions emerged regarding the provenance and origins of objects discovered as part of this work, and why they had remained undiscovered for over 70 years. These discoveries led to an opportunity to confirm and challenge the history of the extermination camp, and demands (from the public) to view the objects. This paper will outline how archaeologists and artists came together to reflect on these issues, whilst simultaneously providing access to the new findings.
KeywordsTreblinka (extermination and labor camps) Forensic archaeology Artistic responses Holocaust
Thanks are due to the staff of the Museum of Struggle and Martyrdom in Treblinka and The Wiener Library; and Kevin Colls, Dean Northfield and the members of the archaeological field teams who have worked at Treblinka as part of the Finding Treblinka project. Thanks are also due to artists Janine Goldsworthy, Hilary Jack, Dave Griffiths, and Jenny Steele, whose works are included in the Finding Treblinka exhibitions. Financial support for the exhibition project was received from Staffordshire University and other donors who wish to remain anonymous. This article was made possible thanks to one of the author’s (Caroline Sturdy Colls’) tenure as a Fred and Maria Devinki Memorial Fellow at the Jack, Joseph and Morten Mandel Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.
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