Write, Write

  • Lars Iyer


‘Because he was a Jew, my father died in Auschwitz: How can it not be said? And how can it be said? How can one speak of that before which all possibility of speech ceases?’1 Berek Kofman was buried alive in Auschwitz because he stopped working in order to celebrate the Sabbath. He refused not by opposing his power to the power of his captors. He knew what would happened if he stopped to pray. Work, for Berek Kofman, would neither liberate him nor provide his rehabilitation; he refused to perform his tasks on the run. But to refuse work was also to refuse the entire order of power of which such work was an emblem. He was not one of those who would hold himself back in the midst of his labours in order, later, to bear witness. It was left to his daughter to bear witness in his place, or rather to write of the witnessing of others, and of those who, she argues, teach us to witness and to learn from witnessing.


Textual Memorial Dwelling Place White Fire Greek Thought Promise Land 
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  1. 4.
    Kofman, Sarah. Rue Ordener, Rue Labat, translated by Ann Smock (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1996), 3.Google Scholar
  2. 21.
    The Writing of the Disaster, 63. Josh Cohen’s excellent Interrupting Auschwitz: Art, Religion, Philosophy (London: Continuum, 2003) also explores these themes.Google Scholar
  3. 43.
    Levinas, God, Death and Time, translated by Bettina Bergo (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2000), 199.Google Scholar
  4. 44.
    Levinas, ‘The Truth of Disclosure and the Truth of Testimony’, translated by Iain MacDonald, Basic Philosophical Writings, edited by Adriaan Peperzaak et al. (Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 1996), 97–108, 103.Google Scholar
  5. 49.
    Levinas, Difficult Freedom: Essays on Judaism, translated by Sean Hand (Baltimore: The John Hopkins University Press, 1990), 99.Google Scholar
  6. 54.
    Nietzsche, Twilight of the Idols, translated by R. J. Hollingdale (London: Penguin Books, 1968), 50.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Lars Iyer 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lars Iyer
    • 1
  1. 1.Philosophical StudiesUniversity of Newcastle upon TyneUK

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