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Conference Proceeding

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This paper is part of a larger dissertation exploring cultural and discursive performances of the Holocaust Memory in South Africa during apartheid and in its aftermath. Over the apartheid years (1948–1994), Holocaust memory was invoked by different SA communities. This paper focuses on the years from 1945 to 1960 and examines the representation of the Holocaust in cultural formations in South African society by looking at the Jewish community as a unique “borderline community.” This paper traces the status of South African Jewry from its position as a community of immigrants, mourning for the loss of their relatives in Eastern Europe, and memorializing the Holocaust while confronting anti-Semitism from Afrikaner nationalists, to being a community on the borders of the ruling caste of apartheid. My main argument is that the ambivalent status that designated South African Jews as a “borderline community” in a racial state is reflected in the centrality of the Holocaust memory to the community identity. In this paper I will focus on the communal commemorative monuments which were built in memory of the perished European Jews. By examining the communal and national discourses regarding those monuments I will demonstrate how the Holocaust was presented as a Jewish tragedy that was aimed not only at the Jewish audience but also at the whole white hegemonic public.