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The Assault on the Holy within the Human

The Account of the Holocaust Diaries
  • David Patterson
Chapter

Abstract

When addressing the matter of the singularity and the universality of the Holocaust, we have a sense that in this one event something of immense significance for all humanity has transpired. That ‘something’ is the holiness -the absolute, unconditional value — of every human being. In order to remove such a notion from the realm of abstraction, however, we must turn to the flesh-and-blood human beings who were targeted for destruction: the Jews. As God’s Chosen, the Jews are chosen to attest to the chosenness of every human being. Why did the Nazis target the Jews? Not because some Jews may have prospered during an economic depression. Not because they were an easy scapegoat for social problems. But because their presence in the world contains a testimony to the sanctity of every human being, and that testimony cannot exist in the same universe with Nazi ideology. Therefore the Nazis made the existence of the Jew a crime. And one way to begin to penetrate the core of that Jewish existence in the time of the annihilation is to examine the diaries that they wrote along the edge of annihilation. In those texts we discover the question that belongs both to the singularity and to the universality of the Holocaust: What is a human being? ‘At Auschwitz, not only man died, but also the idea of man,’ Ehe Wiesel has said. But what exactly is the idea of man? And how does it die? Or better: how does it come to be murdered in the murder that is the defining feature of the Holocaust?

Keywords

Black Hole Jewish Life Human Image Immense Significance Nazi Ideology 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes

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Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 2001

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  • David Patterson

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