Speaking of the Holocaust

From Silence to Knowledge and Back Again

in European Judaism
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  • 1 Leo Baeck College, UK
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Abstract

Albert Friedlander's writings were part of a generational struggle to find a language in which to speak of the experience of the Holocaust. This struggle was, in part, a response to the ‘unspeakability’ of the Holocaust, the silence and denial of its perpetrators. As such, in the postwar period, the perpetrators of the Holocaust also struggled to find the words to speak of what they had done. This short article goes on to speculate on the implications of the unspeakability of the Holocaust and other genocides. It suggests that this unspeakability is beginning to break down as desires are spoken of more openly. As such, it is possible that current and future generations will have to embark on a different struggle to that of Albert Friedlander. While he could count on an assumed moral consensus that the Holocaust was wrong, current and future generations may no longer be able to rely on this assumption.

Contributor Notes

Dr Keith Kahn-Harris is a Senior Lecturer at Leo Baeck College, a Fellow of the Institute for Jewish Policy Research and an Associate Lecturer at Birkbeck College. His books include Strange Hate: Antisemitism, Racism and the Limits of Diversity (Repeater, 2019) and Denial: The Unspeakable Truth (Notting Hill Editions, 2018).

European Judaism

A Journal for the New Europe

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