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The United States has taken a large responsibility in regards to the remembrance and legacy of the Holocaust and World War II, yet the way in which the U.S. remembers the event is fairly narrow. Despite both the war and the Holocaust being a transnational event, remembrance in the United States is so focused on American triumphs and victories that it ignores many elements that give insight into the the overall understanding of the events. Why is that? The life and story of Betty Laurie will provide insight into the answer. Born in the 1890’s in Scotland, she immigrated to the United States in the first few years of her life, and became a citizen of Mansfield, Massachusetts, where she remained throughout her childhood. In the late 1920’s, after living in France for some time, she married into the French aristocracy, holding the rank of Countess Roberta de Mauduit. Years later, with the outbreak of World War II and the Nazi invasion of France, Betty Laurie’s life took a turn when she was taken prisoner and sent to the Ravensbrück concentration camp. The horrors and brutalities Betty Laurie experienced during her time in captivity are similar to that of a Holocaust victim, however it is important to note she was not a Holocaust victim. Which is why she is a crucial part to the overall understanding of public memory in the United States; Betty Laurie transcends nationalities and borders and experienced the worst of what humanity has to offer. She is a key component to the overall understanding of the Holocaust and how it is remembered today. This project relies on analysis of secondary works on the subject, as well as analysis of primary sources from the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum’s Archives and the University of Michigan’s Special Collections and Archives. In addition, this project relies of the analyzation of key institutions, such as the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C., the FDR Memorial in Washington, D.C., and the New England Holocaust Memorial in Boston, MA. The importance of this research is crucial to the understanding of the Holocaust as it is already known. The intent is to provide not only a deeper understanding of the Holocaust, but to examine the complications and limitations that leave out key elements– like Betty Laurie–and expand the overall public memory as well.



Thesis Comittee

Dr. Paul Rubinson, Thesis Advisor
Dr. Leonid Heretz, Committee Member
Dr. Thomas G. Nester, Committee Member

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Original document was submitted as an Honors Program requirement. Copyright is held by the author.

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