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Shame, the Holocaust, and Dark Times

  • Michael L. Morgan

Abstract

Ten years after the Third Reich was defeated and the Nazi death camps were liberated, Alain Resnais was persuaded to create a film about their horrors and atrocities. Night and Fog was the result of his subsequent collaboration with Jean Cayrol, who wrote the narration, and Hanns Eisler, who composed the film’s musical score.1 The central theme of this remarkable film is that, appearances notwithstanding, the evil of the death camps and of Nazi fascism remained alive in France in 1955. It might have seemed to the film’s audiences that the evil and the horror had been destroyed with the liberation of the camps and with the end of the ruthless empire of death, but Resnais’s and Cayrol’s message was that they had not. Time might have deposited layers of debris over the past; life might have continued and grown, hiding not only that past but also the forces and agencies of evil that existed in the present, in 1955. The lesson of Night and Fog, however, is that while time may make forgetfulness easy and memory difficult, this means that memory becomes a challenge and a task.2 Forgetfulness goes hand in hand with a terrifying threat, that today and tomorrow, again and again, we will be made to live once more as agents, victims, or bystanders of such atrocities. If those alive in 1955 did not remember the past, then the forces of degradation and inhumanity would continue to win their victories, and we will all be their victims.

Keywords

Dark Time Genocide Convention Death Camp Rwandan Genocide Human Solidarity 
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

© Michael L. Morgan 2005

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  • Michael L. Morgan

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