A Stone for Claude Lanzmann

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On July 5th, as I was leaving Treblinka, one of the six death camps that Nazi Germany built in Poland to murder Europe’s Jews, I learned that the man who most seared in the public mind the true memory of that cruelest engine of death had just died.

Many of the stones in Treblinka’s memorial of hundreds of stones are marked with the names of whole cities and towns, such as Warsaw, whose Jews, about 900,000 in all, were gassed there. Now another should be placed at Treblinka for Claude Lanzmann, the greatest guardian of Treblinka’s memory. It shouldn’t be placed, of course, in the memorial itself, which is a mute statement of remembrance. It should be placed in the nearby museum, which offers little history and even less context. The installation of an endless loop of Lanzmann’s masterpiece of testimony, Shoah, would be a metaphorical stone of Lanzmann’s unique and massive contribution to Holocaust memory.

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