In Memoriam: Lawrence L. Langer

By Stephen Naron - January 31, 2024

It is with great sadness that we mark the passing of Lawrence L. Langer on January 29, 2024.

Larry was Professor of English Emeritus at Simmons University in Boston and a towering figure in Holocaust studies. His contributions to the Fortunoff Video Archive were many, not only as a scholar writing extensively about videotestimony, but also as an interviewer in dozens of testimonies recorded by the Archive. He was a regular speaker at the Archive's events, and served on the Fortunoff Archive's Honorary Advisory Board. In fact, he was an important contributor to and influence on most of the Archive's scholarly and educational activities.

A scholar with unusual breadth and depth, both within and beyond Holocaust studies, he was a fierce critic of American memorial culture and warned us that the desire to draw some kind of "positive lesson" about the Holocaust would obscure our ability to grasp the true scope of the destruction.

But beyond his intellectual contributions, Larry was first and foremost a friend. Of course we will miss his brilliance, and his critical voice, but we will miss his warmth and sense of humor just as much.

Our hearts go out to his family: to Sandy, his wife, his son Andy and daughter Ellen, and his many grandchildren and great-grandchildren, over whom he kvelled delightfully whenever he had the chance.

In the coming weeks we will share more about Larry's important work. But a good place to begin would be to dive into the complete online edition of his groundbreaking, award-winning book Holocaust Testimonies: Ruins of Memory. Larry generously provided us with the rights to share this work in its entirety with embedded digital testimony. The goal, then as now, was to share as broadly as possible some of his most important insights on the nature of Holocaust testimony.

May his memory be a blessing.