Winnipeg Jewish Review  
Site Search:
Home  |  Archives  |  Contact Us
 
Features Local Israel Next Generation Arts/Op-Eds Editorial/Letters Links Obituary/In Memoriam

Dr Adam Muller

 
DR. ADAM MULLER RESPONDS TO CHATTERLEY: NAZI GENOCIDE HAS MULTIPLE CAUSES, ANTISEMITISM IS NOT SINGLE CAUSE

Dr. Adam Muller, March 27, 2012

[Editor's note: This piece by Dr. Adam Muller was submitted in response to Dr Catherine Chatterley's article ,the Holocaust is not an interfaith experience.

 http://www.winnipegjewishreview.com/article_detail.cfm?id=2283&sec=1&title=DR._CATHERINE_CHATTERLEY:_THE_HOLOCAUST_WAS_NOT_AN_INTERFAITH_EXPERIENCE

That article is supported by the article by  scholar and former Director of US Holocaust Museum Walter Reich's:

http://www.winnipegjewishreview.com/article_detail.cfm?id=2283&sec=1&title=DR._CATHERINE_CHATTERLEY:_THE_HOLOCAUST_WAS_NOT_AN_INTERFAITH_EXPERIENCE 

My own editorial stance on this issue is in line with that of Chatterley and Reich, but  I am pleased to run Dr. Muller's contrary response to expose readers to the full breadth of the issue]

DR. MULLER'S RESPONSE TO DR CATHERINE CHATTERLEY

While I appreciate Catherine Chatterley’s injunction to be vigilant against attempts to distort the truth about the Nazis’genocide of the Jews, I do not share her view of the self-evidence of several points articulated in her recent editorial.

Along with many other Holocaust and genocide scholars, I take the Nazi genocide to possess no single cause such as antisemitism, but rather multiple causes including, in addition to long-standing prejudices: Europe’s recent history of recent interstate war (which Donald Bloxham has argued served to help model intra-state violence); European, and especially German, colonialism; the rise in the early twentieth century of militant conceptions of ethnic homogeneity (volkism) and national self-determination; anticommunism;the weakness following World War One of the international system and its restraints; and the renewal of world war and the chaos it engendered.

Nor did Hitler enjoy enormous support from the German people prior to his dispensing with the mechanisms of democratic politic representation in 1933. At best the Nazis received 44% of the German popular vote, in March 1933, an improvement over the 33% they had received in the election four months earlier. This improvement can be attributed to many factors,including the weak appeal of political parties opposed to the Nazis and the ongoing global financial crisis, which the Nazis promised to address.

Dachau was not a “political prison camp,” though it served in some respects as one, but rather a designated concentration camp that acted as as a model for those camps like Auschwitz which were constructed afterwards. SS guards who served at these other camps received training at Dachau, and a crematorium and gas chamber were constructed there though the latter was never used. Medical experiments were performed there, and Dachau’s prisoners were used as slave labour. It would therefore be a mistake to overemphasize Dachau’s distinctiveness as a site of cruelty and suffering. Furthermore, it is perhaps worth noting that the Nazis did not just experiment on Jews in order to refine their methods of killing. Indeed the disabled were the first to be gassed by the Nazis as part of the T4 euthanasia program begun in 1939, and the first casualties of Zyklon B were Russian POWs.

Lastly, it is important not to confuse defending the specificity of the Jewish experience of the Holocaust with defending the term "Holocaust" itself. The latter, the term, was only assigned (and then with much criticism) to the destruction of European Jewry in the 1960s, and did not become ubiquitous until the late 1970s. After that, in a process documented very ably by sociologist Jeffrey Alexander, the term “Holocaust” gradually lost its specific attachment to the Nazi genocide to the point where now many of us speak altogether too easily about environmental or nuclear holocausts. My point here is that “Holocaust” is a linguistic artifact whose attachment to real historical Jewish suffering was both belated and contingent.The terms of that attachment have continued to evolve, and it now includes reference to a range of different kinds of suffering, by a diversity of groups (hence Linda Altman’s 2003 title The Forgotten Victims of the Holocaust). Like many scholars, when I refer to specifically Jewish aspects of the Nazi genocide I use the term “Shoah,” though I admit the awkwardness of assigning a Hebrew term to mark the experiences of so many victims whose own first language was Yiddish.

In my opinion, for these and several other reasons I find it unproblematic to consider the Names, Not Numbers exhibition a Holocaust representation which accurately speaks to the complex features both of the Holocaust and of more recent attempts by young Germans to contend with their ongoing responsibilityto remember and redress the crimes committed by their forbears.

Dr. Adam Muller
Associate Professor

Department of English, Film, andTheatre

University of Manitoba

 
<<Previous Article       Next Article >>
Subscribe to the Winnipeg Jewish Review
  • Snowbirds
  • Jewish Federation of Winnipeg CJA
  • CIBC
  • Jewish Federation of Winnipeg
  • CFHU
  • Scott Fielding
  • Gray Academy
  • Jewish Federation of Winnipeg
  • Markus Chambers
  • Coughlin Insurance
  • Red River Coop
  • Munroe Pharmacy
  • Imperial Soap
  • Nick's Inn
  • Commercial Pool
  • Preventative Health First
  • Booke + Partners
  • GTP
  • James Bezan Simchat torah
  • Bob and Shirley Freedman
  • MCW Consultants Ltd.
  • Golden Arrow Life Sciences
  • John Bucklaschuk
  • Tyler Bucklaschuk
  • Maric Homes
  • Artista Homes
  • Tradesman Mechanical
  • Accurate Lawn & Garden
  • Fetching Style
  • Josef Ryan
  • Roseman Corp.
  • Bruce Shefrin Interior Design
  • HUB International
  • Laufman Reprographics
  • Kristina's
  • CVA Systems
  • Ron Zimmerman
  • Fair Service
  • Superlite
  • Thorvaldson Care Center
  • Marks Family
  • Dakota Chiropractic Office
  • Cindy Lamoureux
  • Western Scrap Metals Inc.
  • Dr. Marshall Stitz
  • Charach Family
  • MLT Aikins
  • Harris Law Solutions
  • East Kildonan Dental Group
  • Lofchik Family
  • Gulay Plumbing
  • John Wishnowski
  • Cdn Visa
  • Cascade Financial Group Inc.
  • Taverna Rodos
  • Chochy's
  • Erickson Motors
  • Shoppers Drug Mart
  • West Kildonan Auto Service
  • Grant Kurian Trucking
  • The Center for Near East Policy Research Ltd.
  • Sarel Canada
  • Beyond Flowers
  • Santa Lucia Pizza
  • Roofco Winnipeg Roofing
  • Center for Near East Policy Research
  • Nachum Bedein
Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.


Opinions expressed in letters to the editor or articles by contributing writers are not necessarily endorsed by Winnipeg Jewish Review.