Surviving Auschwitz

There is this woman in my life, my Uncle’s mother, who I have known since I was quite young. As a child, there were three things I knew about Huggy (as we kids called her) she is tiny (about 4’6″), she is French, and she always wears long sleeves.

Growing up Jewish, the holocaust was a key part of my religious education. French Jews were imprisoned? Huggy is a French Jew. It took place in the 1940s?… Read the rest here

Survival in Auschwitz

In Survival in Auschwitz by Primo Levi, Levi argued that one survived in Auschwitz by maintaining his humanity. In Auschwitz, everything possible was done to strip people of their humanity: upon arriving, people were robbed of their clothes, belongings, and money. They were then shaved and tattooed with numbers that replaced their names. People in Auschwitz lived without food or proper medical treatment; most were separated from their families. Everyone was forced to do back-breaking labor day after day with little to look forward to or hope for.… Read the rest here

Quiet Survival

In the afterword to Survival in Auschwitz, Primo Levi stated: “As for survival…I insist there was no general rule, except entering the camp in good health and knowing German. Barring this, luck dominated” (180). Levi did enter the Lager in relatively good health and quickly learned some German, and he did encounter more luck than many of the Häftling, especially in the case of meeting Lorenzo, who provided Levi with both the physical sustenance of soup as well as the less tangible reminder of the world outside, where goodness still existed.… Read the rest here

The Racial Paradigm: Hitler and the Holocaust

Both Stargardt and Kershaw discuss Hitler’s leadership style. Each specifically discusses Hitler’s leadership as it relates to the extermination of the Jewish population in Germany, or the Final Solution. Kershaw discusses Hitler’s leadership style as a bottom-up approach. Stargardt similarly argues that Hitler relied on local leaders to implement his policies.

It is commonly known that Hitler had his inner-circle of advisors whom he relied on for advice and implementation. However, both articles brought up the racial issue that was central to Hitler’s regime.… Read the rest here

Conflict of Perceptions: Intentionalists vs. Structuralists

In Nicholas Stargardt’s “The Holocaust” and Ian Kershaw’s “Hitler and the Holocaust”, many different interpretations as to the relationship between Hitler’s personal agenda and the “Final Solution” are presented. The two prevailing modes of thought in regards to Hitler’s influence in the mass extermination of the Jews within these texts are the “intentionalist” perspective and the “structuralist” perspective.

The “intentionalist” thinkers seek to place Hitler as the main fountain from which the anti-Semitic actions of the Nazi regime spilled forth.… Read the rest here

Holocaust as an Outcome of Modernity

Bauman’s introduction to Modernity and the Holocaust raises questions pertaining the Holocaust and its relationship with modern civilization.  While there are many historical and theological arguments attached to the questions raised, there are minimal accounts of sociological arguments.

If looking though through a historical/theological lens, one can find how modernity contributed to the Holocaust.  While human beings would like to think only about the positive outcomes of modernity, we must think of the negative outcomes that resulted in such a change in society.  … Read the rest here

The Dormancy of “Aberration”

In the first chapter of Zygmunt Bauman’s “Modernity and the Holocaust”, multiple perspectives are provided regarding the relationship between modernity and the Holocaust. Bauman begins by refuting the concept of the Holocaust- or any major sociological development, for that matter- as a singular “event” that can be scrutinized in terms of the multitude of historical elements that contributed to its development. Rather, he projects the idea that unless we revise our sociological perspective on the past, we will never see it as anything but “a unique but fully determined product of a particular concatenation of social and psychological factors” (4).… Read the rest here

Understanding Bauman’s “Civilized Nazis” Theory in the Context of Modernity

In the introduction to his most famous work, Modernity and the Holocaust, Zygmunt Bauman argues from a sociological perspective that the genocide of non-Aryans by the Nazis in an effort of ethical cleansing can only be strictly understood in the context of a modern and civilized society. His view is quite radical, especially to those raised in the West who have been ingrained with the ideology that developed cultures exclude those that practice all forms of brutal savagery, particularly a Holocaust.… Read the rest here

The Holocaust: A product of modern society?

Is the Holocaust a failure or product of modern society?  Bauman in the first chapter of his book Modernity and the Holocaust argued the Holocaust represented the darker possibilities of modern civilized life.  Using the bureaucracy and social engineering utilized by the Nazis to create a judenfrei Europe as evidence to support his claims, Bauman stipulated that the Holocaust existed as an extension of modern civilization. This thesis contradicts a mainstream theory of sociology, i.e. the prevailing notion that the Holocaust was a failure, not a product, of modern society.  … Read the rest here

Modernity: Crop Tops or Mindless Bureaucracy?

In Bauman’s article, Modernity and the Holocaust, it is questioned whether the Holocaust was a social phenomena or the culmination of European antisemitism. Genocide is a ‘normal’ aspect of human civilization, one group reaches a point where it believes it is necessary to eliminate the other. Often this is carried out by senseless violence and bloodshed, Rwanda for example. It is a logical conclusion that the Holocaust occurred due to ethnic and religious hatred, yet, the murder of millions of Jews was carried out by a systematic, and well-oiled machine, the bureaucracy.… Read the rest here