A dead-end street of cultural memory. Through the Night and its remediations

In his 1955 novel “Through the Night” (originally “Am grünen Strand der Spree”), Hans Scholz depicted the execution of Jews that he had witnessed in November 1941 near the Belarussian town of Orsha. The book was soon reprinted in the press and adapted into a radio play and television miniseries. Despite their popularity, they have been largely absent from scholarly research. Following a microhistorical approach, the project traces the ‘travelling memory’ of the massacre from Scholz’s individual experience to a widely received media event. It focuses on the entangled processes of production and reception of all versions and explores the reasons for their absence in West German collective memory.

Magdalena Saryusz-Wolska is currently a Humboldt Fellow at the Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz. Her main research fields are cultural memories in Germany and Poland, visual histories and reception studies. She studied sociology and cultural studies in Lodz (Poland), Giessen and Mainz. She obtained her PhD at the University of Lodz with a dissertation about the cultural memory of the formerly German cities which became Polish after 1945, and a habilitation at the University of Warsaw with a book about visual histories in early post-war Germany. She also works as a translator and editor. In collaboration with scholars from the Polish Academy of Sciences and the German Historical Institute Warsaw, she edited in Polish the works of major German memory scholars, among others Aleida and Jan Assmann, Renate Lachmann and Astrid Erll.