Saturday, June 17, 2006

The logic of horror

I'd like to recommend very highly this article from signandsight by Götz Aly about the Historikerstreit. The "Historians' Dispute" erupted after Ernst Nolte put forward the view that the Holocaust should be viewed not in isolation, but as part of a much broader social current in the 20th Century. As it came out at the time, it seemed that he was playing the moral equivalence game so familiar to us now. Götz Aly maintains that, though Nolte placed the emphasis wrongly, his attempt was a worthwhile one and that any understanding of the Holocaust must be based on an analysis of forces far greater and historically deeper than Nazism.

For example,

In World Wars, in revolutions and also in peace treaties, [Europeans] put two old ideas into bloody practice: national and social homogenization. These two concepts – often together as an explosive cocktail – inspired the masses to free themselves from misery, from the constraints of tradition, and to speed their journey to a better life by means of violence. Sameness within a large, precisely-defined group promised security, individual liberty was considered a threat. The inviolability of the human individual and of entire groups considered enemies was sacrificed to collective regression.
There's a lot more. Read it all.

Another excellent article
by the same writer on Hitler's welfare state.

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