Saturday, January 31, 2009

Rehabilitation?



To conclude the month of January, please take a moment to read Christopher Buckley's powerful piece on Auschwitz-Birkenau here. Certainly the Nazi atrocities have been documented ad nauseum to the point where one would think that in this day and age, the historical factuality of the Holocaust would be considered an incontrovertible truth by men and women of rational mind. But we can never stop being vigilant, lest a bit of "Holocaust fatigue" starts to creep into our collective consciousness. As the video above of the Bishop Richard Williamson painfully illustrates, "never again" is an empty phrase without constant re-affirmation and a perpetual struggle to remind new generations of the horrors of the past.

1 comment:

Bianca Castafiore said...

The first impulse to snicker and laugh at the very implausibilty of a Catholic Bishop denying essential elements of the Holocaust... well, it never really gets a chance to develop. It dies on the lips.

I cannot understand how *any* Pope, but *this* Pope, in particular, could justify lifting Williamson's excommunication.

What gives me shivers is the elegant form that he and others of his ilk give to their offensive arguments -- a reductive interpretation is offered that chips away at the truth -- 'No, it wasn't 5, 6 million Jews, it was a much lesser number, more a couple hundred thousand... Oh, and those that were killed? Don't you find the whole notion of gas chambers just too difficult to swallow? They were killed some other way... but not in that horrid way, no.'

One of the most valuable courses of my undergrad career was "Literature of the Holocaust." Even way back then, the pathology that somehow is invoked by the Holocaust was apparent -- otherwise sensible people felt the need to tell me how badly I was wasting my time. And then, as a class, we went through the weird trauma of having a professor (from my dept, too)come as guest speaker who completely manufactured a personal history as a Holocaust survivor. He claimed to have simply walked away from the camp, escaping into a nearby wood. It wasn't until we began to piece together the fabric of his story that the pieces unravelled.

And so we were introduced to the incredible impact of Survivor's Guilt. This is how that poor man's mind dealt with his guilt of having survived, hidden by a gentile family while his parents perished at Bergen-Belsen -- not long before liberation.

There are many ways the Holocaust is denied. All of them are beyond sad. "Never again" may be an empty phrase without an active subtext, but the power of simply repeating, placidly, horrid untruths must at least be matched by a steady stream of truthful words. Keep talking. (And so, thank you!)