Search This Blog

Friday, November 20, 2015

Some Myths Of Reason

History Today

In the September 1998 issue of History Today, Peter Monteath nicely summarised Christian Gerlach’s groundbreaking argument about the origins of the Holocaust: that, in December 1941, Hitler made a ‘decision in principle’ that all Jews should be murdered. However, I am persuaded by subsequent historiography and by a rereading of Hitler’s own writings that his worldview was so radical that the concept of a ‘decision’ is inappropriate; in Alon Confino’s apt phrase, Hitler imagined a ‘world without Jews’ from the beginning. Realising that vision was less a question of categorical pronouncements and more a matter of what was possible. Revenge against Jews was not a decision but an inevitability.


For any idea of ‘intentionalism’ [i.e., an "intentional" and voluntary decision] to hold, it must begin with Hitler’s conviction that Jews should be removed from the planet. This is subtly but importantly different from the idea that Hitler planned a Final Solution. It allows for the possibility that Hitler learned from experience that killing Jews was easier than deporting them. It also raises the question of under what precise circumstances his global vision could be localised. Here what is necessary is a kind of ‘local structuralism’, which includes the motivations of non-German actors and the effects of non-German settings on Germans themselves.

Such is the history of the Holocaust as it is now being written: a catastrophe both planetary and local, transcending the limitations of German national history.

This is part of what I have been thinking about since seeing Woody Allen's Irrational Man : the inability to confront  {engage with, intimate with} that which is irrational or not-rational, other than in ritualized areas of our lives.

The Final Solution became possible because all players allowed it up to the outbreak of war.
World War II began in two parts because of the (1) invasion of Poland, and then (2) the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

At no point did any nation-state go to war to save the life of a Jew.

It reminds me of our Civil War. It began on the Northern side as a war to save the Union.
Even the horrible obscenity of slavery could not rouse a majority of the North to go tro war to end slavery. Until the Emancipation Proclamation, any number of future history threads were possible, some with a future including variations of slavery.......

Remember how the Southern Christian churches endorsed the Biblical truth of Slavery?

Tread carefully in dark times.


No comments: