The Great War shattered Yosef Hayim Yerushalmi’s celebrated distinction between history and memory in Jewish cultural life. Jay Winter argues that Jewish history and Jewish memory collided between 1914 and 1918 in ways which transformed both and created a new category he terms ‘historical remembrance’.
The war unleashed both, centripetal forces, moving Jews to the core of their societies and centrifugal forces, dispersing huge populations of Jews in Eastern Europe and Russia, creating terrifying violence, the appearance of which was a precondition for the Holocaust 25 years later.
Jay Winter is the Charles J. Stille Professor of History at YaleUniversity’. His latest monograph René Cassin and the Rights of Man. From the Great War to the Universal Declaration was published in 2013. He is editor-in-chief of the three-volume Cambridge History of the First World War (2014) and a founder of the Historial de la grande guerre at Péronne, Somme, France.