A Rapping Witness, Stumbling Stones and Jewish History: Musical Remediations of Memories from the Times of National Socialism


  • Thomas Sebastian Köhn Leuphana University Lüneburg


As primary witnesses of the Holocaust fade away, contemporary memory culture grapples with challenges in how the younger generation can remember the era of National Socialism. In the post-witness era (Popescu & Schult 2015), this article explores how hip-hop can serve as a medium for remembrance. Building upon the theoretical framework of remediation proposed by Bolter and Grusin (1999) and subsequently adapted by cultural memory studies scholar Astrid Erll (2017), this article examines three hip-hop songs as case studies to investigate the processes of remediation within hip-hop music: firstly, »Identität« (Identity) by the Jewish rapper Ben Salomo (2016), currently based in Berlin; secondly, »Stolpersteine« (Stumbling Stones) by the German rapper Marco Helbig, also known as »Reimteufel« (Rhyme Devil) (2012); and thirdly, »Edek,« written and produced by Kevin Pollard, featuring the rapper Kapoo and the Polish Holocaust witness Janine Webber (2018). Combining music analysis, semi-structured interviews, and discourse analysis, the article analyzes how physical materials like buildings and memorials, different kinds of music and silence, as well as the act of witnessing are remediated within the songs. By introducing these four types of remediation, the article aims to advance the syntheses between musicology and cultural memory studies, emphasizing that the concept of remediation can encompass musical, and thus audible, aspects.