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and Memory, Vol. 4, No. 1 (Spring - Summer, 1992), pp. 39-59 Published by: Indiana University Press Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/25618626 Accessed: 09/11/2010 09:33
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Trauma, Transference and ''Working through"
the History of the Shook
It has been observed by psychologists that survivors of traumatic events are divided into two well-defined groups: thosewho repress their past en bloc, and those whose memory of the offense persists, as though carved in stone, prevailing over all previous or subsequent experiences.Now, not by choice but by nature, I belong to the second group. Of my two years of life outside the law I have not forgotten a memory continues to restore single thing.Without any deliberate effort, tome events,faces, words, sensations, as if at that timemy mind had gone through a period of exalted receptivity, during which not a detail
Primo Levi1 German historians and students of history have the obligation to understand that victims of Nazi their bereaved persecution and relatives can even regard it as a forfeiture of the right to their form of memory if historical research on contemporaryhistory, operating only in makes claims in its academic arrogance to a monopoly scientific terms, when it comes to questions and concepts pertaining to the Nazi crimes demands that this period.... Respect for tlie victims of Nazi mythical memory be granted a place.... Among theproblems faced by a younger generation of German historians more focused on rational understanding is certainly also the fact that theymust deal with just such a contrary form of memory among those who were persecuted and harmed by the Nazi regime, and among theirdescendants - a form of memory which functions to coarsen historical recollection.
The mythical quality that he [Broszat] attributed to thememory of the victims is inherent in the event itself... and no historical analysis will be able to solve this. All historical work on the events of this period will have to be pursued or considered in relation to the events of
Auschwitz Grossen Ganzen von all
an historicization reaches its limits (Hier stosst alle Historisierung ihre GrenzeJ. Christian Meier3 * In a short autobiographical written text, "The Awakening," a few years ago, Aharon Appelfeld of his generation. speaks how Jewish children who survived the war, describes He touch with their past after their arrival in Israel, entirely losing a fragment of came to loathe their prior identity. Whenever to resurfaced, memory they did" everything in their power
obliterate it. Years
in Appelfeld's This discovery of the past became, words, a some sort of personal an experience of miraculous rebirth, and collective redemption.4 Such redemptive feeling is rather unusual. Today, says Appelfeld, he would have written his text somewhat differendy. of is presented another picture by the hundreds Quite the Holocaust,5 interviews with surviving victims of videotaped in The Ruins ofMemory.6 For discussed Langer by Lawrence
any cathartic of memory,
rediscovery of a harmonious a unifying moral principle.
these testimonies," writes
self, of a heroic "The efforts of
the story with of loss that punctures that coexists with whatever of chagrin, a vexation fragments of evidence relief one feels from the fact of survival. The "liberate a subtext
these testimonies ... suggests that such a relief is less
than we have been led to assume."7 Langer distinguishes between various categories of memory, the between to a specific relationship each corresponding self and the surrounding world of destruction, as remembered the present self has of the the perceptions well as between world and of the past. The gist of Langer's contemporary a fundamental difference remains between a argument is that on the years of the Shoah and a deep memory totally centered the self to the normal pre common memory that "restores substantial
and postcamp routines, but also offers detached portraits, from the vantage point of today, of what it must have been common are like and then."8 Deep memory memory irreducible to each other. Any attempt at building a ultimately on return of the the intractable coherent self founders "It is enough stories repressed and recurring deep memory. Art Spiegelman's for today, Richieu," survivor father, in says the very last line of the second book of Mauy. the dying father is addressing his son Artie with the name of the younger some forty-five brother, Richieu, who died in the Holocaust collective memory, closure and possibly a the resistance of deep stance, notwithstanding redemptive memory at the individual level. The question remains whether at the collective level as well an event such as the Shoah may, leave traces of a deep after all the survivors have disappeared,
common memory, as well Individual tends to restore or establish coherence,
memory beyond individual recall, which will defy any attempts to give itmeaning. This text, which deals mainly, but not exclusively, with the vantage point of the victims, focuses on patterns of historical in their global sense - on professional history representation as well as on some major trends of historical consciousness. I shall first summarize some interpretations of Jewish historical
and catastrophe, both in general terms and in consciousness relation to the Shoah, then examine some of the defenses that in the historical rendition of the Nazi epoch and the appear Shoah. Finally, I shall address what "working through" means in regard to these historical narratives and also to global
trends of historical consciousness.
narrative of a redemptive recovery of the past is Appelfeld's a the of individual undoubtedly expression genuine somewhat it is experience, although atypical. Moreover, consonant with the structure of previous attempts at public
and its integration of the Shoah in early Israeli consciousness national rituals. A catastrophe like no other in the history of
led to a quintessential historical redemption, the Jewish people the birth of a sovereign Jewish state. This of sequence in visionary arid Redemption,'' rooted "Catastrophe deeply in the official equalizing of tradition, found its expression Shoah and Gvurah, of Martyrdom and Heroism. Yet this officially supported ideological interpretation was not reinforced as time went by; on the contrary, it suffered a a progressive erosion from the late 1960s on, among growing of the Israeli public. While over the last few years the segment Shoah seems more
present than before in Israel and in wider its is consciousness, Jewish increasingly interpretation and lacking in consensual multifaceted interpretation. Thus, a seems to subvert the early trend ideological long-term
that Judaism, over Jewish tradition. It has often been argued a collective memory the course of its history, developed to integrate catastrophic events. working along fixed patterns in a paradigm linked to Judaism's Such patterns, rooted the destruction of the Temple, yet catastrophe, archetypal the seed of messianic redemption, have been said to carrying have ages contributed Jews have to
the its "creative survival." Throughout to history in ritualized forms responded of Book in tradition biblical both (the grounded and early modern and in medieval Lamentations) reworkings is striking, however, of the basic redemptive paradigm.11 What to apocalypse" become less convincing is that these "responses - when - and their authors seem less certain of their validity both during the war and after it. they confront the Shoah some of memory scholars dealt with patterns Whereas secular in Jewish traditions and literature, and expressed culture others explored Yiddish literature and Jewish popular Yosef Yerushalmi historian Columbia Europe, as a genre. The thesis he historical addressed writing of Jewish the world in Zakhor is well known: presented tradition integrated catastrophic or disruptive historical events The a set pattern of responses. archetypal through such an cannot but question contemporary Jewish historian in Eastern
the rules of and invokes scientific the redeeming power of myth. Yerushalmi investigation against the Shoah in a" few lines only. The addresses gist of his amount of the unparalleled is that notwithstanding argument this catastrophe, the historical investigation engendered by in the world is awaiting a redeeming myth, as when, Jewish immobile from Spain, it embraced the mythical of the expulsion In the meantime, of the Kabbalah. literary fiction symbolism
as a temporary surrogate.12
Yet today, almost fifty years after the events, no mythical framework seems to be taking hold of the Jewish imagination, nor does the best of literature and art dealing with the Shoah to offer any redemptive stance. In fact, the opposite appears
In no recent work of art is this lack of closure as obvious as film Shoah. Each Lanzmann's individual testimony in Claude remains a story unresolved. The overall narration is neither linear not circular; it is a spiral recoiling upon itself, then into new territory through a succession of forays. As moving the film unfolds, and particularly in the last sequence, the moment, elevated by early Israeli memory mythical redemptive as the to the same metahistorical itself, meaning catastrophe in the of becomes another total story just episode extermination. The Warsaw ghetto uprising principally conveys the bitterness of survivors: "If you could lick my heart," says second in command of the ghetto uprising, Antek Zuckerman, "it would poison you."13 In Primo Levi's The Drowned and the Saved, in Ida Fink's muted echoes of the past, in any number over the last years, no of works published theme redemptive or sign of resolution is evident. If this interpretation is correct, one may question the of generalizing the thesis recendy formulated by possibility Yale about the relationship literary critic Cathy Caruth, trauma and the construction of history. Referring to between Freud's Moses and Monotheism, Caruth suggests the possibility of a delayed constitution of historical due to the understanding not immediately perceived of traumatic events. specific, impact These events are usually followed by a period of latency before the "return" of the experience allows an elaboration of
"For history to be a history of trauma/' historical meaning. that it is referential precisely to the writes Caruth, "means extent that it is not fully perceived as it occurs; or, to put it somewhat differendy, that a history can be grasped only in the very inaccessibility of its occurrence."14 The argument is based not only on Freud's text, but also on from his country and from the his own traumatic "departure" events of his language. These led to his natural domain of a newly interpreted version of the story of Moses writing and the birth of the Jewish religion in a new country, and to to a in part at least, from his lifelong language his moving, new one at the very end of his life. The aftermath of the Shoah seems to indicate that the thesis of a history-originating trauma cannot be transposed as is to these specific events and to their delayed effects. It leaves one possibility, though, that I in conclusion. At this stage the most we can shall discuss is that we are faced with a new but unresolved historical argue
Defenses If one accepts the suggestion that for the community of the and the the Nazi victims, and for others as well, epoch remain an unmastered past - a "past that refuses to Holocaust the it - then both go away," as a notorious saying has the indeterminacy extreme character of the events and their historical significance create even for the surrounding of unconscious historian a field of projections, professional transferential of an authentic and reshapings, shapings has noted: situation. As Dominick LaCapra the historian with transference The Holocaust presents in the most traumatic form conceivable - but in a form that will vary with the difference in subject position of or analyst is a the historian the analyst. Whether a relative of survivors, a former Nazi, a former survivor, collaborator, a relative of former Nazis or collaborators, from more a younger distanced Jew or German or contact with immediate survival, participation,
even a difference in the meaning will make statements that may be formally identical.15
defined single vantage point. For German of contemporaries or the Nazi epoch, particularly those who were adolescents young adults at the end of the war, the whole range of in the variety of its internal conflicts may be as daunting results as it is for the victims. Moreover, complex personal
circumstances must often be taken into account. Consider, for
statement in such matters can No doubt, any generalizing are any have only the barest indicative function. There number of possible psychological aspects linked to each of the It suffices by LaCapra. subject positions previously mentioned to recall shame, guilt, self-hatred and all the shades of ambivalence among the surviving victims in order to perceive from an apparently well the difference in narratives produced
the notorious and controversial book of Andreas been a youngster in Two Kinds of Ruin.16 Having Hillgruber: in eastern Prussia and the Wehrmacht fighting the Russians to flee his hometown of Konigsberg must have a having had on Hillgruber's identification with the peculiar bearing of the east and the retreating units of the German populations Wehrmacht during the last year of the war notwithstanding meant the Wehrmacht of the fact that the resistance continuation of the extermination policies behind the eastern an identification with front. Thus, previous personal is repressed for a long time, but unexpected experience acting out can hardly be avoided. If, for the sake of simplicity, we consider both German and of the Nazi Jewish contemporaries period contemporary or children, even the children of these adults, adolescents - what was traumatic for the one group was obviously groups not traumatic for the other. For Jews of whatever age, the fundamental traumatic situation was and is the Shoah and its for Germans, it was national defeat (including flight sequels; and loss of sovereignty) following upon from the Russians To exhilaration. national that, however, a sequel must be instance, added, regardless of its psychological definition: the
information growing over time about Nazi crimes, The victims of Nazism the cope genocide. traumatic situation, whereas many fundamentally have to cope with a widening stain, with potential
especially a with shame Germans or
guilt. Studies abound concerning the repression of the Nazi epoch in the German the early phases of public sphere, including Massive denial was blatant in the historical history writing.17 work of the late forties and fifties. In the early sixties signs of a transformation appeared, and that new approach dominated the late sixties and the seventies. From then on various forms of denial and defensive reactions surfaced in a new guise. The an of the late eighties became ''Historians' Controversy" case of acting out. But how could one not mention unusual of the late sixties? In clashing student movement the German with their parents' generation, itself; they were fighting Nazism it "fascism" as an overall tag, along with the new awareness of the Nazi created, shielded many of them from the specificity became such past, and ideological generalizations deeply In in subsequent historical discourse about Nazism. embedded short, the burden of the past, both at the individual and the as much on the and weighs level, weighed generational as among the community of in Germany historical discourse the victims.
it is not has not disappeared, although Straight denial the accepted the late 1970s, for instance, Until massive. a clear distinction between the behavior mythology established and that of the SS units on the eastern of the Wehrmacht front. To this day, this topic remains an area of repression, even within the most painstaking historiography. that "this collective Omer Bartov has recendy observed is so powerful that it infects even those very scholars amnesia who have done so much to cure it."18He cites the example of a military historian who has written a major study of Nazi That historian notes that he indoctrination in the Wehrmacht. ever having been exposed to political personally cannot recall and his own service in the Wehrmacht education during concludes by doubting the effect of that indoctrination on the
that could be termed is a defense widespread in the debate off." It recently found expression "splitting of National "the historicization' about Socialism."20 Early this issue left the place of of "Auschwitz" discussions that ensued, In the debate unmentioned. the centrality of to the domain of the victims, Auschwitz was first relegated then itwas suggested that (see my epigraph); specific memory of Auschwitz the quasi-mythical dimension in the victims' to be taken into account had memory alongside the more to the history of the epoch. In short, facts nuanced approach - too well known in a sense - were perfecdy well known split to create off from the main argument, as they were bound to the history of Germany for the new approach problems Far more under Nazism. No clear way of integrating them was
forms of avoidance, and particularly the splitting-off led to a growing fragmentation in the have of the Nazi of Nazism The representation study epoch.22 into discrete, specialized and unrelated domains disintegrates Various
and so understates and the "already well-known" There is facts ever-more of mass extermination atrocity. minute
research into various aspects of everyday life and social change the Nazi overall era, without any during compelling interpretive framework.23 Film has expressed many of these shifts, one way or the other. The producer and director Edgar Reitz complained that NBC's Holocaust had stolen German In response, he produced Heimat, which may well memory.
have stolen the victims'
Shoah. Heimat may eventually eclipse Shoah, Shoah may be too to neutralize Heimat. Almost unbearable of necessity, the aesthetic enticement to remember the Heimat will prevail over the ethical imperative to remember the Shoah. to the historical and testimonial discourse of the Turning one encounters defenses that are not victims, always outwardly on the German different from what is perceptible historical scene. covers such However, similarity totally different positions. The fifteen or war in regard that followed the twenty years of "latency" to talking or writing about the Shoah,
particularly in the United States, should not be equated with to the in contradistinction massive repression exclusively, scene. The silence did not exist within the survivor German in relation to the outside world community. It was maintained and was often imposed by shame, the shame of telling a story that must appear unbelievable and was, in any case entirely out of tune with silence was society. This surrounding in Israel, by the debates from 1951 on breached, especially the reparations the with Germany, agreement concerning Kastner trial and finally the Eichmann and trial. These capture intense moments of emotional upheaval in a context provided awareness the contrary currents of vulnerable dominated by and of steadfast avoidance in both the national and the
the more sustained silence of the Against this background, None of the most renowned intellectuals must be mentioned. Jewish historians of the postwar period elected to pursue the Shoah as a subject of their research. This was true during the it did not change 1940s and 1950s, and, with few exceptions, at any time later on. Hans Rosenberg, for example, worked on Namier,
where he interviewed distinguished and Heidelberg as Martin Heidegger, Karl Jaspers and others, such as his modified described what himself he manifesting Freiburg scholars
his monumental study of the Prussian bureaucracy.24 Lewis on historians the doyen of British European was also not lured as a historian to treat the diplomacy, extermination of the European Jews, even in his book on the Nazi epoch.25 The emigre historian Felix Gilbert, who joined intellectuals as a political in 1943 a group of distinguished confessed (OSS), analyst for the Office of Strategic Services in the OSS, that had it not been for his wartime experience "even more geistesgeschichtlichef than he would have become the trained diplomatic he already was.26 Gilbert, historian, interests as academic his old and newly perceived pursued still soon as he arrived in Germany in April 1945. While he of the OSS, the Research and Analysis Branch serving Office shordy the archives of the German Foreign surveyed after their discovery. Thereafter, he visited the universities of
dissertation, showing him his master's thesis, parts of which he intended to use in this work. Going through the manuscript, "That is good, we can leave it this Neumann approved, saying: way," until he reached the section on the behavior of the Jews said: "This recalls, Neumann (the Judenrat). Here, as Hilberg must take it out hann man nicht is unbearable, (Das you ertragen, das mussen Sie herausnehmen)." It was not a scientifically based judgment, did [Neumann]
sometimes these Jewish responses among strong emotional the author of intellectuals. The reaction of Franz Neumann, Behemoth, as rendered by Raul Hilberg, may shed some light on this point. Neumann, at Columbia University since 1947 as a had met Hilberg his service with the OSS, following on his student. The latter consulted with Neumann graduate
as a result of the war - the relation between "political power and academic responsibility."27 of the Shoah in the intellectual Yet, the meager presence the war did not necessarily obstruct discourse following intellectual inclinations
as Hilberg it: "he correcdy interpreted 'it is false,' 'it is that say only
interview to Alfons extensive Sollner, Hilberg to decode Neumann's reaction. He admittedly was attempted that this highly respected political scientist and astonished - made no Marxist - or at least affected by Marxist thinking attempt to explain his response. He did not say: "You should is not completely correct," think it over," or "This leading to conclude that "He reacted simply as a [Neumann] Hilberg In
noted that Furthermore, (einfach als Jude)" Jew Hilberg to do had Neumann's reaction either with his nothing theories or with his Marxism. Hilberg recalls that he felt himself Americanized in his rather angry. Considering as Neumann's rebuke thinking, he perceived political can be suppressed today, but tomorrow it will be triumphant." this point, Hilberg On behaved like any concluded, Neumann other deeply committed Jew.29 Neumann's accidental death in 1954 leaves us speculating as been to how his initial emotional reactions to the Shoah would have rendered, if at all, in his later intellectual work. It may
censorship. He was adamant that "the truth must come out, it
were on be significant that his final public pronouncements In his last years he the theme of "Anxiety and Politics." the irreducible substratum of repression that began probing in psychic and political resides life, and the circumstances
under which it may as "Auschwitz" such assume its neurotic-destructive not other facets of Nazism character.30 seemed
to the Shoah, Theodor In their references of bounds. were and Salo Baron Hannah Arendt obvious as within the wider Jewish intellectual landscape, exceptions were in the specialists at Yivo in New York, those working in such as Leon Poliakov Israel, or self-taught historians in England. As for some of the France and Gerald Reidinger best interpreters of modern German history, their silence or is a chapter by itself. casual reference to the Holocaust The fragmentation of the historical field that characterizes much of current German historical writing on the Nazi epoch appears, though somewhat differendy, in Jewish historiography. an too seem to be at a loss to produce Jewish historians that overall history of the extermination of the Jews in Europe an analysis of the textbook presentation, is not a mere or a internal cogs and wheels of the destruction machinery The "Final Solution" of separate monographs. compendium in its epoch has not yet found its historian; and the problem out Adorno,
cannot be reduced to a mere technical issue.
of that after the initial period look indicates closer dominated of ideologically with the exclusion silence, and the subject have historiography, most historians approaching or with of the background either with descriptions dealt narrations of the Shoah, never, to my knowledge, with an to both. There may be several unconscious integrated approach for this division of historical labor, chiefly among motivations of the Nazi epoch. Their historians who were contemporaries marked life was and intellectual emotional by largely or in terms of direct experience whether ruptures, unbridged use the could these ruptures of sudden awareness; (we in in an attenuated sense) reappear concept of deep memory various facets of their work, in more ways than can be dealt its work seems to with here. As for the following generation, In short, close to the patterns set by its predecessors. stay A
monographic presentation, still caught "catastrophe attempts at global interpretation. For almost fifty years now, so much additional factual knowledge, we have faced despite or blankness with little interpretive or surplus meaning advance. This evaluation representational applies also to my
the immense effort of documentary and and research textbook straightforward historical is interpretation by Jewish historians as the between hasty ideological closure (such and redemption" and a paralysis of theme)
On Working through
In Beyond the Pleasure Principle, Freud defines as traumatic to "any excitations from outside which are powerful enough the protective break shield He (Reizschutz)." through
to me that the concept of trauma necessarily in an implies a connection of this kind with a breach otherwise efficacious barrier against stimuli. Such an It seems
event as an external trauma is bound to
large scale in the functioning of the energy and to set in motion every possible
from being aware and trying to overcome the defenses the major difficulty of historians of the already mentioned, Shoah, when confronted with echoes of the traumatic past, is some measure to keep of balance between the emotion the "protective shield" and recurrendy breaking through numbness that protects this very shield. In fact, the numbing or distancing effect of intellectual work on the Shoah is unavoidable and necessary; the recurrence of strong emotional
impact is also often unforeseeable and necessary.
aware of both first, being "Working through" means, tendencies, allowing for a measure of balance between the two whenever possible. But neither the protective numbing nor the is entirely accessible to consciousness. A disruptive emotion
is Raul Hilberg's magisterial work.52 More than telling example most of us, he has succeeded in balancing the necessary or "numbness" with elements of intense emotion. distancing But the full impact of this emotion has on occasion been deflected toward overcritical comments on the behavior of the
A main aspect of working through, however, lies elsewhere: the imperative of rendering as it entails, for the historian, and testimonials will allow, truthful an account as documents in this case without giving in to the temptation of closure. Closure an obvious of what remains avoidance would represent
elusive and opaque. Put differentiy, working indeterminate, means for the historian to face the dilemma which, through to Jean-Francois Lyotard, we try to escape in the according "The "that face of "Auschwitz": silence," writes Lyotard,
is not a state of mind remains to be phrased
(etat dame), it is a sign that something which is not, something which is not
in the analysis of the primacy of the rhetorical dimension historical text and die impossibility of establishing any direct reference to some aspects at least of the concrete reality that we call the Shoah.*5 Moreover, it would exclude any ongoing the for a stable historical Obviously, representation. quest of a total stability of this history and of some achievement nor desirable. is neither possible interpretation totalizing closer to significant historical linkage seems to However, coming me to be necessary; it is the corollary of my previous remarks about the growing fragmentation of the history of the Nazi or as the result of some period as a defensive mechanism on the side of the victims. In a sense, what is paralysis two of is the simultaneous here acceptance suggested
in the last two sections (the Some of the remarks presented avoidance of closure, the ever-questioning commentary and the carried by the Shoah which will be referred to below) "excess" reference to a deconstructionist could appear as an oblique to the history of this event.34 Such a possibility approach demands a very brief clarification. a Any deconstructionist approach would necessarily demand
of a naive historical positivism linkages and the avoidance to simplistic and self-assured historical narrations and leading
self-awareness of the historian of the Nazi epoch or the is essential. Such self-awareness itself should be to critical reading. It seems therefore that this accessible difficult historical quest the sporadic but forceful imposes of commentary. Whether this commentary is built presence as a into the narrative structure of a history or developed text is a matter of choice, but the separate, superimposed must voice of the commentator be The clearly heard. should disrupt the facile linear progression of the commentary introduce alternative narration, any interpretations, question of partial conclusion, withstand the need for closure. Because the necessity of some form of narrative in the sequence writing of history, such commentary may introduce splintered or constandy recurring refractions of a traumatic past by using any number of different vantage points. The dimension added by the commentary may allow for an of the victims integration of the so-called "mythic memory" within the overall of this past without its representation Shoah
becoming instance, of an "obstacle" the to "rational narrative whereas historical historiography." have may of For to stress
the ordinary aspects of everyday life during most memories
commentary. years the Nazi epoch, the "voice-over"
of the twelve
such normality, at least at the level of
which neutralize of despair and the concreteness death. The AUtagsgeschichte of German has its necessary society shadow: the AUtagsgeschichte of the victims. In a letter of June
reintroduction of individual memory into the overall of the epoch the use of the representation implies or direct indirect of their contemporaries' expressions experience. Working throughmeans confronting the individual voice in a field dominated by political decisions and administrative The
Benjamin noted the following item: the Viennese gas company had stopped supplying its Jewish clients, since important consumers were using gas to precisely the most commit suicide and consequendy leaving their bills unpaid...36 does not lead in any way to "the use of fact Commentary to and and fiction, document reconstruction, imaginative how history is made."37 does But, working ponder through a confrontation with mean the starkest factual information which taken as data. loses its historical weight when merely a report sent by the German military Raul Hilberg mentions 1939, Walter in the Black Sea port of Mariupol in 1941. In headquarters a single line it stated that "8,000 Jews were executed by only means the Security Service."38 Working through ultimately the limits of necessary and ever-defeated imagination. testing Summation
event or Whether one considers the Shoah as an exceptional as to a wider historical category does not affect the belonging a universally valid significance. possibility of drawing from it this statement is reversed. No The difficulty appears when universal lesson seems to require reference to the Shoah to be this Shoah carries an excess, and The fully comprehended. excess is the "something [that] remains to be phrased which is not, something which is not determined." closure At the individual level, a redemptive (comforting in effect), desirable as it would be, seems largely and healing impossible. At the collective level, however, regardless of the salience of these events, there can hardly be any present Such doubt that the passage of time will erase the "excess." erasure will, most probably, characterize the work of the of what has majority of historians as well, perhaps because the "de-sublimation" of the discipline.39 been apdy called Thus, ifwe make allowance for some sort of ritualized form of in the in place, we may foresee, commemoration, already public
towards closure without
to this rather bleak exceptions an present patterns of historiography,
I would venture to suggest intellectual challenge. However, that even if new forms of historical narrative were to develop, or new modes of representation, and even if literature and art were to probe the past from unexpected vantage points, the of some "deep memory" would probably not be opaqueness "Working through" may dispelled. ultimately signify, in over Maurice Blanchot's "to watch absent words, keep
"possibility of history," "a point of departure."40 And there is a growing sensitivity in literature and art. The voices of a second generation are as powerful as the best work of the Nazi This by contemporaries epoch. produced sensitization is not limited to the community of die victims. in unexpected it appears cultural contexts, as in Sometimes the case of an Indian novelist who related to me that at this very time he is addressing himself to the Shoah. It may well be that for some the trauma, the insuperable moral outrage, never seems to surrender a fully the riddle whose decoding and text, may present an ongoing emotional comprehensible
extension of historical awareness may be attempted, possibly along some of the lines previously suggested. In that sense, the traumatic past would lead to what Caruth considered as a
Notes 56 1 Primo Levi, Moments ofReprieve (New York, 1986), 10-11. "A 2 Martin Broszat in Martin Broszat and Saul Friedlander, about the of National Historicization Controversy in Peter Baldwin, ed., Reworking thePast: History, Socialism,'' Historians' Debate (Boston, 1990), 106. the Holocaust, and the to Martin Broszat, Vierteljahrshefte 3 Obituary fur Zeitgeschichte 38, no. 1 (Jan. 1990): 37. a Pervasive "The On 4 Aharon Appelfeld, Awakening: in Geoffrey Hartman, ed., Shapes of Memory Feeling," (Oxford, 1992, forthcoming). of the Jews of 5 Various synonyms for the extermination will be used here: holocaust, Shoah, "Auschwitz," Europe the "Final Solution." All of them are currently utilized, but
L. 6 Lawrence Langer, Testimonies (New Haven, 7 Langer, "Remembering
ed., Shapes of
8 Ibid. 9 Art Spiegelman, Maus: A Survivor's Tale (New York, 1986). and between "The Shoah 10 Saul Friedlander, Memory The Jerusalem Quarterly 53 (Winter 1990): 115-26. History," 11 Yosef H. Yerushalmi, Zakhor: Jewish History and Jewish Memory (Seatde, 1982); Alan Mintz, Hurban: Responses to Catastrophe in Hebrew Literature (New York, 1984); David G. Roskies, to Catastrophe inModern Jewish Against theApocalypse: Responses Culture (Cambridge, Mass., 1984). 12 Yerushalmi, Zakhor, 99. Shoah: An Oral History of theHolocaust 13 Claude Lanzmann, (New York, 1985), 196. 14 Cathy Caruth, "Unclaimed Experience: Trauma and the
Yale French Studies, no. 79 (1991): Possibility of History," 187. Holocaust: the 15 Dominick "Representing LaCapra, in Friedlander, Reflections on the Historians' Debate," ed., and the Probing the Limits of Representation: National-Socialism 'Final Solution" (Cambridge, Mass., 1992), 110. On a related issue see also his article in the present issue of History & Zweierlei Untergang: Die Zerschlagung des 16 Andreas Hillgruber, Deutschen Reiches und das Ende des europaischen Judentums (Berlin, 1986). and Margarete 17 See, for instance, Alexander Mitscherlich, The Inability toMourn: Principles of Collective Behavior (New York, 1975); Eric L. Santner, Stranded Objects: Mourning Memory, and Film in Postwar Germany (Ithaca, 1990). 18 Omer Bartov, Hitlers Army: Soldiers, Nazis, and War in the Third Reich (New York and Oxford, 1991), 185. 19 Ibid. Bartov is referring to M. Messerschmidt, Die Wehrmacht imNS-Staat. Zeit der Indoktrination (Hamburg, 1969), 334, 483 and n. 1132. "Plea for a 20 For an English translation of Martin Broszat's of National and the Socialism" for htstoricization of letters between Broszat and myself, subsequent exchange see Baldwin, ed., Reworking the Past, 102-134. 21 Ibid. 22 Already in the 1960s Jean Amery spoke of a growing in the writing of this history. See his Radical Selected Essays 1984), 65. Such (Bloomington, has considerably increased during the last few
"entropy" Humanism: "entropy"
23 See for instance Rainer Zitelman and Michael Prinz, eds., und Modernisierung Nationalsozialismus (Darmstadt, 1991). This is not always the case, but sometimes the framework is no less problematic than the lack of it. See Gotz Aly and Vordenker der Vemichtung. Auschwitz und die Susanne Heim, deutschen Plane fur eine neue europaische Ordnung (Hamburg, 1991). 24 Hans Rosenberg, Bureaucracy, Aristocracy, and Autocracy: The Prussian Experience, 1660-1815 (Cambridge, 1958).
Nazi Era (London, 25 Lewis Namier, In the 1952). 26 Barry M. Katz, Foreign Intelligence: Research and Analysis in the Mass., Office of Strategic Services, 1942-1945 (Cambridge, 95 (from an interview with Gilbert by the author). 1989), See also ibid., chaps. 2 and 3, "The Frankfurt School Goes toWar" and "Historians Making History." 27 Ibid., 88, 95. See also Felix Gilbert, The European Past: 58 Memoirs, 1905-45 (New York, 1988). 28 Raul Hilberg/Alfons Sollner, "Das Schweigen zum Sprechen Ein Gesprach uber Franz Neumann und die bringen.
1988), 178-80. 29 Ibid., 180. See also the volume of 30 Katz, Foreign Intelligence, 58. later writings, The Democratic and theAuthoritarian Neumann's State: Essays in Political and Legal Theory (New York, 1957). 31 Sigmund Freud, Beyond thePleasure Principle, in The Standard Edition of theComplete Psychological Works, ed. and trans. James 1953-74), Strachey (London, The Destruction 32 Raul Hilberg, 1961). The 33 Jean-Francois Lyotard, 1988), 56-57. (Minneapolis, 34 This is how my remarks were on at Berkeley 15 April
comments made on
18:29. of theEuropean Jews Differend: Phrases
(Chicago, in Dispute
understood 1992. I am
in a seminar held grateful for the
on this issue in somewhat I have stated my position terms but with similar intent in my introduction to different Probing theLimits ofRepresentation. letter (the this part of Benjamin's full text of 36 The runs as follows: "P.S. Karl Kraus ist denn doch postscript) zu fruh gestorben. Horen Sie: die Wiener Gasanstalt hat die 35
Belieferung der Juden mit Gas eingestellt. Der Gasverbrauch brachte fur die Gasgesellschaft der judischen Bevolkerung ihre Verluste mit sich, da gerade die grossten Konsumenten nicht beglichen. Die Juden benutzten das Gas Rechnungen zum Walter Selbstmords." des Zweck vorzugsweise and Theodor W. Scholem Gershom Benjamin, Briefe 2, ed.
Adorno (Frankfurt/Main, 1978), 820. 37 This quote is taken from the dust jacket of Simon Schama's Dead Certainties (Unwarranted Speculations) (New York, 1991). 'T Was Not There," in Berel Lang, ed., Writing and 38 Hilberg, the Holocaust (New York and London, 1988), 18. "The Politics of Historical 39 Hayden White, Interpretation: in idem, The Content of the and De-Sublimation," Discipline Form: Narrative Discourse and Historical Representation (1987; Baltimore and London, 1990), 58-82. 40 Caruth, "Unclaimed 192. Experience," 41 Maurice The Writing of the Disaster Blanchot, (Lincoln, Nebraska, 1986), 42.
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