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Exhibition "Nuremberg interpreters 1945-1946" to be shown in Aifos Room

Alicante, 10 March 2017

Translated by María Navarro Martínez

"To have a better understanding of the present we live in and the future to come we must remember the past so that we don't become unaware or indifferent to matters we should never forget. The 2015 commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the end of Second World War and the beginning of the Nuremberg trials, in which the Allies (United States, USSR, Great Britain and France) prosecuted the main culprits of Nazi crimes, was a symbolic event that gave rise to all kinds of reflections on this matter. History teaches us that the consequences of those and other incidents which took place seventy years ago still affect us. The Nuremberg trials prove that history is written (mainly) by the winners, but also that sentencing these crimes did not prevent equally horrible incidents from happening again, at a smaller or a bigger scale, at different moments, and in different places.

This project falls within a line of research in Interpretation studies in which several disciplines are intertwined. This exhibition emphasises the Interpreters' role at the Nuremberg trials (1945-1946) since they were essential for their development. The focus is on the pictures, which are accompanied by written and oral testimonials. The pillars of the exhibition are technological progress (especially simultaneous interpreting), the birth of interpreters as a social group, the advances in international law (combining law cultures from different places) and the role of mass media in a time where the public opinion grew more and more influential.

The vast majority of the still photographs exhibited were taken by military photographers with the aim of putting a historical event on institutional record  (this is, to preserve the photos in an institutional file) and making them accessible to the people. According to the curators of the exhibition, all the pictures are either modern copies obtained from public digital files, or photographs whose use had been authorised. In a lot of pictures, the interpreters (whose names this exhibition contributes to bring to light) are not what the photographer was focusing on, they just appear by accident. Taking into account the fact that that none of these images are neutral, the collateral presence of interpreters confirms their invisibility, which is also clearly seen in written accounts. It is us, Interpreting historians, that place the spotlight on the interpreters on the pictures I by collecting and selecting these images. This way, we highlight the essential role they played on the Nuremberg trials, where four languages were involved: German, French, English and Russian.

Finally, we wish to point out that the interpreters had to face many difficulties in terms of technical equipment, language problems, sensitive issues, and psychologically challenging tasks. Generally speaking, interpreters had to face a huge hermeneutic challenge that is often overlooked: translating stories about a reality that entailed not only the extermination of whole social groups (mainly Jews) but also the total metaphysical elimination of their trace on history".

Jesús Baigorri Jalón / Concepción Otero Moreno / Críspulo Travieso Rodríguez (curators)

Exhibition by the European Academy of Yuste Foundation and  Espacio de Cultura Científica / Servicio de Actividades Culturales / University of Salamanca

UA organisers: Dr Amelia Peral Crespo and Dr Antonia Montes Fernández, members of MIDEL (research group in literary and cultural memory and identities). In collaboration with Universitat Jaume I (Castellón).


Events to be held in parallel to this exhibition: 
International and Interdisciplinary seminar "The Shoah and the Nuremberg Trials: victims, tormentors, and female & male mediators


Organised by
Dr. Amelia Peral, Modern Languages Department, French Philology Area
Dr. Antonia Montes, UA Department of Translation and Interpreting
MIDEL (Research group in literary and cultural memory and identities)


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