Evil and the Holocaust
When Allied forces invaded Germany during the final months of World War II in early 1945, this final act in the dramatic liberation of Europe from Nazi tyranny revealed the unimaginable depravity of Nazi evil which made the Second World War a moral conflict unlike any other. On April 29, American soldiers liberated the Nazi concentration camp at Dachau, located ten miles northwest of Munich in the German province of Bavaria. Dachau was one of many camps located in Eastern Germany, and Poland established by the Nazi regime for the systematic purpose of ruthless killing. Most concentration camps were created before the start of the war (launched with the German invasion of Poland in 1939) for the internment of political prisoners, criminals, and other individuals deemed by Nazi ideology as “undesirable” (homosexuals, disabled people, gypsies). Six of these concentration camps became transformed during the war into extermination camps (Vernichtungslager) where Jews, who were forcibly deported through-out Nazi occupied Europe, were killed either in gas chambers, by slave work, or through starvation and abject mistreatment. When American soldiers entered Dachau in 1945, they encountered horrific scenes of prisoners suffering from extreme malnutrition, sadistic medical experimentation, exhaustion from slave labor, and torture. In the infamous Nazi concentration camp at Auschwitz (located in Poland), liberating Russian troops in January 1945 discovered piles of human ashes, stacks of human cadavers, warehouses filled with jewelry, shoes, and other personal belongings taken from prisoners upon their arrival, as well as barracks filled with dying prisoners, many of whom would not survive their liberation or remain afflicted with mental and physical suffering for the rest of their lives. An estimated 1.1 million human beings were killed at Auschwitz.
The Nazi of Jewish populations (along with the mass murder of gypsies, political prisoners, and so-called “degenerate” elements) represents as one of the most heinous acts of collective and deliberate evil in human history. Labeled by the Nazi regime as the “final solution of the Jewish question” (Endlösung der Judenfrage), the murder of 6 million Jews involved deportation, dehumanization, and destruction. When combined with the deaths of Russian civilians, European gypsies, and prisoners of war, a staggering 11 million non-combatant human beings were deliberately killed by the Nazi regime. This unprecedented state organized mass murder required the vast mobilization of industrial resources, implicit social acceptance or indifference, efficiency of transportation networks, brute military power, and, most significantly, a venomous ideology of hatred. The wanton killing of Jews did not just occur in the designated concentration camps. In fact, most Jewish victims of Nazi violence were killed in towns and villages, in forests and fields, rounded up for mass slaughter (as with the Babi Yar massacres, where German soldiers killed 100,000 Jewish men, women, and children in a large ravine in Kiev, Ukraine), or hunted by special groups of elite German soldiers ( of the notorious SS), or killed by ordinary units of the German Army, or Wehrmacht. The Nazi genocide of European Jews was not just about killing, however. It intended the extermination of Jewish culture, heritage, and religion.
The first question that inevitably springs to mind is: why? Why is there such evil in the world? How are human beings able to commit, individually as well as collectively, atrocities on such an order of magnitude upon each other? Are the motivations for doing evil understandable or inscrutable? Are human beings fated to being evil? Such questions have long obsessed human beings. In the Bible, coming to terms with the question of evil is central to understanding the place of human beings in a world created by a benevolent and loving God. In philosophical and literary works since the Enlightenment, coming to terms with the question of evil proved central to understanding the place of human beings in a world shaped by human reason and guided by humanity’s confidence in historical moral progress. Both traditions, the Judeo-Christian heritage that dominated European thinking until the 18th century and the self-proclaimed modernity of the Enlightenment, offered intellectual resources that addressed the question of evil. Both traditions provided ways of making sense of the human proclivity for committing atrocities against human beings. With the historically unprecedented moral catastrophe of the Holocaust, these intellectual and ethical responses to evil reached a breaking point. Does the question “why is there evil?” here still make sense?
The Italian chemist and writer Primo Levi, who survived interment at Auschwitz, recalls in his account of his ordeal in his book If This Is a Man (1947) his experience of arriving at the concentration camp. After having the identification number 174517 tattooed on his left forearm, he was placed with other new arrivals in a locked barrack without food and water. As Levi recounts, “Driven by thirst, I eyed a fine icicle outside the window, within reach of my hand. I opened the window and broke off the icicle, but at once a large, heavy guard prowling outside brutally snatched it away. ‘Warum?’ [Why?] I asked in my poor German. ‘Hier ist kein warum’ [Here there is no why], he replied, shoving me back inside.” Levi’s recollection epitomizes the gratuitous malignancy that can be said to define the evil of the Holocaust: why would a human being in a position of absolute power over other human beings insist on denying a deprived and dehumanized captive a single drop of water? Is the evil perpetuated by the Holocaust without explanation and meaning? Is there no “why?” to this evil, large or small, the organization of extermination camps or the snatching away of an icicle (Levi & Woolf, 2013)?
The end of the Second World War provoked an intense period of philosophical soul searching on the nature of evil. According to French filmmaker Claude Landsman, the Holocaust should be understood as simply an event of the past, over and done with, with the liberation of the concentration camps and victory over Nazi Germany in 1945. When understood as a moral catastrophe (and not just as an historical event), the Holocaust is not behind us; it stands in front of us. As the German-Jewish philosopher Hannah Arendt observed in 1945, “the problem of evil will be the fundamental question of postwar intellectual life in Europe. (Arendt, 2006)” This question has arguably not lessened in significance or urgency today. As Arendt remarks, “something happened there [in the Holocaust] to which we cannot reconcile ourselves. None of us can.” With this statement, Arendt echoes Levi’s experience of being a victim of an evil that apparently undercut the meaningfulness of asking “why”? For thinkers like Arendt and Levi, however, the silence implied in the statement “here there is no why?” is unacceptable. Should we remain silent and hence quietly be accepting of the presence of evil? Are we able to respond to evil if we are unable to respond to the question “why?” Can we remember the victims of evil without having to ask “why?” Simon Wiesenthal, another Jewish survivor of the Holocaust who after the war tracked down fugitive Nazi officials to bring them to trial for their war crimes, recounts how SS guards in a concentration camp taunted him by stating that “the world will not believe” your experiences: “even if some proof should remain and some of you survive, people will say that the events you describe are too monstrous to be believed: they will say that they are the exaggerations of Allied propaganda and will believe us, who will deny everything, and not you. We will be the ones to dictate the history of the Lagers.” The challenge of responding intellectually to the fundamental question of evil posed by the Holocaust, even as it seems to defy asking “why?” is therefore essential for the ethical imperative of remembrance (Hayes, 2017). In this regard, the denial of the Holocaust perpetuates its evil. By the same token, the disappearance or forgetting of dealing with the fundamental question of evil after the Holocaust would seem critical to avoid. Intellectually confronting evil and the Holocaust guards against a prurient obsession with atrocity (what could be called the “pornography” of evil), and the “kitschification” of evil with so-called Nazi-kitsch, and its aesthetic fascination with the look of Nazism in popular culture.
The French philosopher Jean-François Lyotard characterized the Holocaust as an intellectual, moral, and historical “earthquake” (Lyotard, 2007). The Holocaust destroyed not only human beings, their culture, and their world. It also destroyed the intellectual “measuring instruments” that would allow us to make sense of its evil as well as moral capacities for responding to its evil. To be sure, genocides and other moral atrocities existed before the Holocaust and have been perpetuated since. The Belgian genocide of African populations in the Congo in the mid-19th century killed an estimated 5 to 10 million people. The Rwandan genocide in 1994 killed between 500,000 and 1,000,000 people. What arguably differentiates the Holocaust from other moral atrocities cannot be comparatively measured in terms of intensity of violence, numbers of death, means of killing, or scale of the event – though these factors do contribute substantially to the magnitude of the Holocaust as studied extensively by historians. Lyotard’s point is that what differentiates the Holocaust is how it calls into question the possibility of intellectual response itself. In Lyotard’s metaphor, the “measuring instruments” have been broken by the earthquake. Basic notions such as responsibility, guilt, motivation, and intention as well as basic capacities of response to evil such mourning, forgiveness, remembrance, and punishment have been fundamentally called into question in a way that urgently calls for new ways of thinking about and responding to evil.
How we think about evil – our understanding of evil – must be composed from a set of basic distinctions: the victim of evil and moral harm (the person who suffers physical and moral injury); the perpetuator of evil (an individual, a group, a culture, a society); the intention and motivation for committing evil against another; the values which an evil act violates, including, the dignity of human beings; the extent and degree of suffering and violence. In addition to such elements that form our conception of evil, how we understand evil must also relate to our capacities to responding against evil: punishment, remembrance, reconciliation, forgiveness, and mourning. The question of evil is not merely an intellectual issue of understanding; our understanding of evil is of a piece with our responsibility of coming to terms with evil and its aftermath. How we understand evil must also take into consideration the narratives of evil in which the who, what, where, how, and why of evil (as well as our responses to evil) are given meaning within the broader horizon of the place of human existence in the world. At bottom, we want to understand whether human existence has any meaning at all in the presence of evil.
Philosophers such as Arendt and Lyotard argued that the Holocaust represented a fundamental breakdown in our established conceptions of evil (“measuring instruments”). In the Western tradition, we can identify broadly speaking two dominant ways of thinking about evil: religious and secular. These different traditions are understandably multi-faceted. They nonetheless have distinct contours in their respective understanding of evil. Both of these ways of thinking about evil (i.e., these two sets of measuring instruments) no longer seemed applicable to the evil of the Holocaust, thus provoking their re-calibration and re-thinking. In the Biblical tradition, evil is conceptualized in a number of ways. A basic idea in the Biblical tradition is that evil should be considered either as a punishment or testing of faith by God. In the Book of Job, the pious and righteous Job is victim to an array of evils that call into question his faith in God. God is approached by “the accuser” or “the adversary” (commonly referred to as “Satan”) to test Job’s faith. “Satan” proposes that Job is pious, faithful, and righteous only because God has blessed him with a family, wealth, and well-being. God permits everything that Job holds precious in life to be destroyed: his wife, his children, his crops, his livestock. In despair at having lost everything he holds dear, four friends come to offer different explanations as why God would allow Job to be the victim of such unmitigated evil. Job does not become reconciled to his suffering and evil by the different explanations offered by his friends. He remains inconsolable and uncomprehending. God then “answered Job out of the whirlwind” and revealed marvelous divine order of the universe. God does not answer Job’s question of “why?” but seems to answer indirectly in proclaiming that “whatsoever is under the whole heaven is mine” and therefore, by implication, that evil is reconcilable with the divine order of the world. In response, Job admits his own inability to understand “things beyond me which I did not know.” He does not understand “why?” but understands nonetheless God’s power and thus endures in his faith in God.
The Book of Job profoundly shaped Judeo-Christian thinking about evil and formed the basis for the later development of what is called theodicy. How can evil exist in a world created by an omnipotent, omniscient, and loving God? If human beings, according to the narrative of Genesis, are created in God’s image, why would God create human beings capable of doing evil? Does the evil committed by human beings reflect back on God? Theodicy is the position that God is not directly responsible for the presence of evil in the world. It is a view that vindicates God’s creation of a world in which there is evil. As symbolized in the narrative of Adam and Eve, human beings introduced evil into the world. God imparted human beings with free will and hence responsibility for their decisions. To be free is to run the risk of doing what is wrong. We are often misguided or tempted to do what we ought not to do, as with Adam and Eve’s fateful tasting of the forbidden fruit. On this view, evil is considered to be a privation of the good; evil as such does not exist nor would a human being knowingly commit evil. We do evil in the absence of knowing what is good. Added to this understanding of evil is the view that what we human beings experience as evil – suffering, moral injury, death – has place and significance within a broader divine narrative where such evil becomes redeemed and punished by God. As with Job, even though we cannot answer “why?” we must trust – have faith – in God’s divine justice. This influential view of theodicy in the Judeo-Christian tradition stood opposed to a prevalent view in the Ancient world, popular around the time of the origins of Christianity, known as (a religion based on the teachings of the Persian prophet Mani). On this view, the world is understood as the stage for an interminable cosmic conflict between two divine powers: good and evil. Evil is not the privation of being, but has its own independent existence, nor is evil reconcilable with God’s goodness. Good and evil, as opposed divine powers, are locked in conflict. Evil is an alien and inscrutable power over which there is no possibility of earthly triumph.
The Holocaust provoked a profound debate among Jewish thinkers concerning the relation between God and the Jewish people. Can one still have faith in God after the Holocaust? How could God allow his chosen people to suffer such evil? Does God still exist? Margarete Susman, a German-Jewish writer and poet, returns to the Book of Job as the dramatic prefiguration of the fate of Jewish people in exile. Susman proposes that God has “fallen silent” in the modern world and abandoned the world. God no longer speaks to the world and can no longer be found in the world. As Susman writes “just as He evaded Job in his personal fate, so He evades the modern Jew in his universal fate.” The response to this abandonment, however, for Susman is neither nihilism or despair but the renewal of the covenant between God and his people in “a new version in which God is all silence and human beings alone speak. And yet, though his name is never mentioned, only He is addressed.” The “eclipse of God” from the world in the 20th-century (the phrase is Martin Buber’s) and God’s silence in the Holocaust is also an important theme for the French-Jewish thinker André Neher, for whom there can only be memorial and mournful silence in response to the monstrosity of the Holocaust. God and human beings stand together silent in mournful prayer, or Kaddish, before the unspeakable. The endurance of Judaism and survival of Jewish people becomes a defining imperative after the Holocaust for the Jewish thinker, and rabbi Emil Fackenheim (himself arrested and interned in a concentration camp before his escape to England) who advocates that “Jews are forbidden to give Hitler posthumous victories,” by which he means, that it is the responsibility of the Jewish people to remember the Holocaust and continue Jewish life in covenant with God (Fackenheim, 1982).
A different approach to the question of God abandoning the Jewish people, and of how to reconcile the evil of the Holocaust with the covenant of the Jewish people with God, is proposed by the German-Jewish philosopher Hans Jonas. Jonas argues that God suffers the evil human beings have committed against each other. Instead of Job asking for God’s justification, it is we human beings who must ask God to be forgiven and atone for the unspeakable evil we have brought into creation. Our evil is suffered by God as well through our desecration of the world entrusted to us by God (Jonas, 1996). This emphasis on suffering and responsibility is found in a different way in the thinking of the French-Lithuanian philosopher Emmanuel Levinas (whose family was murdered by Nazi troops in Lithuania). Levinas rejects categorically any theodicy of evil. The evil of the Holocaust is incommensurable with any meaning or rationality. The “excess” of evil impels human beings, however, to unconditionally become responsible for all human suffering. We are each singularly responsible for the well-being of others. What evil reveals is an unconditional responsibility that defines our humanity. As Levinas writes in the dedication of one of his books: “to the memory of those who were closest among the six million assassinated by the National Socialists, and of the millions on millions of all confessions and all nations, victims of the same hatred of the other human being, the same anti-Semitism (Levinas, 2019)”.
The philosopher Arendt considered that the Holocaust marked a fundamental rupture with secular conceptions of evil. In her view, a secular understanding of evil became the dominant frame of reference for thinking about evil after the Enlightenment. The Enlightenment ushered a new way of thinking about evil that no longer situated the question of evil within a religious framework and focused instead on the human motivation and dispensation for evil. Two connected ideas form the foundation of an Enlightenment approach to evil. First, evil is committed from ignorance of what is good. No person knowingly commits evil. Evil acts are committed on the basis of misguided intention, faulty notion of what is good, or moral blindness. Second, evil is motivated by selfishness; an individual makes an exception for themselves with regard to what we should do. We would want to do what we ought to, yet we are easily tempted by own self-interest, self-conceit, and individual privilege to invert the relationship between what I want to do and what I ought to do. Rather than tell myself to do what I ought to do, I make myself an exception in thinking myself exceptional. I do what I want at the expense of what I ought to do. For the German philosopher Kant, who developed the basic framework for what is often called a concept of “moral evil,” when I act from self-interest against what I ought to do, I fail to respect myself as a moral agent (as a person who should choose to do what is right) as well as the dignity of other human beings as moral agents. A more radical view of good and evil that became developed, and often associated with the German philosopher Nietzsche, is the idea that good and evil are value-judgements that express differences of power. There is, strictly speaking, nothing inherently good or evil. There is the pursuit of power based on the affirmation of one’s own strength and interests. “Evil” is what those who resent losing call the winners while “good” is what the winners call themselves. But even this extreme view of “good and evil” remains in its own way beholden to the selfish underpinning of “the will to power.”
Arendt contends that the “radical evil” of the Holocaust cannot be understood in terms of “selfishness” motivation, a primitive unbridled drive for power, sadism, or psycho-pathologically. Although these elements conspired at some level, her claim is that it was the “normalcy” or “banality” of how the Nazi regime perpetuated their evil, which involves hundreds of thousands of “ordinary” individuals, and the organization of vast bureaucracies and institutions, that characterizes the Holocaust. This is not to discount the presence of sadism, opportunism, economic calculation, and deliberation. As with the infamous trial of the Nazi, Adolf Eichmann (who was brought to Israel to stand trial for crimes against humanity from his hide-out in Argentina in 1960), what concerned Arendt was to understand how “ordinary” human beings can participate in the perpetuation of unspeakable atrocities. During the war, Eichmann held the important bureaucratic position of the management of the deportation of Jews to concentration camps. Unlike fanatical Nazis like Hitler and Himmler or soldiers who killed Jews, Eichmann never murdered any one nor did he seem to share the degree of emphatic hatred for Jews – for Arendt at least (though this has been contested by recent biographical research). As Arendt argued, Nazi evil “lost the quality of temptation” and could not be ascribed to “humanly comprehensible motives.” On the other hand, Arendt was careful to avoid any “mythologization” of evil in the form of “Satanic greatness” or “demonic otherness.” , for Arendt, exploded standards of moral judgment and broke the continuity of history, which thereafter some consider postmodern.
There is something monstrously banal, human all too human, about Nazi evil. Can a person commit atrocities without being motivated by monstrous intentions? Can one commit evil unthinkingly? For Arendt, what characterized evil in the Holocaust was the “unreflective” and “unthinking” quality in a moral sense: individuals like Eichmann followed rules, obeyed commands, and understood themselves as contributing to a “greater good” without ever questioning in a morally salient sense what it is they are doing. As she remarks, “it was not stupidity but a curious, quite authentic inability to think” that accounted for Eichmann’s evil. This inability to think would not be sustainable, however, were it not for the normalization (or “banality”) of evil as the moral collapse of German society, which allowed people to perceive themselves as ordinary and upright in an immoral and far from ordinary world.
This condition for Arendt made the question of responsibility and punishment especially complicated. Are all Germans responsible for the evils of Nazism? Are only the leaders responsible? How can one hold a person responsible when they are unable to admit their responsibility and guilt, let alone express remorse and regret? During the trial of Eichmann, Arendt questioned whether there was any logic to bringing a Nazi to juridical trial. Can a Nazi be brought to justice, as was organized in the Nuremberg Trials after the Second World War? Arendt thought that Nazi crimes “exploded the limits of the law” as well as the meaning of punishment. Was the hanging of Eichmann (he was sentenced to death in 1962 and apparently declared “I had to obey the laws of war and my flag”) adequate to the savagery of the evil he perpetuated? Arendt did not directly reject the legitimacy of juridical trial and punishment; indeed, for her, it was imperative to establish a public and visible judgment of Eichmann’s moral guilt and responsibility. A fellow German philosopher and friend, Karl Jaspers argued however that there is a sound logic to brining Nazi criminals to juridical justice and argued strongly that every German who participated in the Nazi evil against humanity was morally guilty and responsible.
Arendt and other thinkers such as Lyotard considered that the virulent Anti-Semitism in the Nazi ideology of racial supremacy represented a fundamentally different form of evil as “dehumanization” Unlike dehumanization through economic exploitation and slavery or dehumanization through social and political exclusion, an important critical stage in the dehumanization of Jews under the Nazi regime was the destruction of the Jew as juridical person. Jews were stripped of legal protections and equal rights before the law. Through this dismantling of civil and juridical rights, Jews were placed in a space outside the law (national and international); deportation was not just physical but symbolic. The concentration camp served as a place outside the law where Jews were exposed to unlimited violence of the state: torture, abuse, starvation, murder. The murder of the juridical person sets-up the murder of the moral person. In Arendt’s view, the Nazi genocide sought to destroy the concept of the human as such – the humanness of Jews. Historically, the anti-Semitism of Nazi ideology shared many features with the entrenched anti-Judaism of European culture and Christianity reaching back to the Medieval Ages. However, what distinguishes the Nazi anti-Semitism is that it displaces the practice of Christian persecution of the Jews with an ideological extermination of Jews.
This imperative of extermination is inseparable from Nazi ideology and myth of racial supremacy (the precedents of which can be found with colonialism). The extermination of the Jews did not have economic purpose. It did not have the dynamic of “kill in order to acquire or possess” or “do violence in order subjugate; it as not a “civilizing mission” as with the myth of European colonialization or “a mission of conversion” as with the Christian persecution of Jews. The imperative of Nazi hatred centered on “kill in order to be,” namely: the extermination of the Jews as condition for the realization of the phantasy of German “purity” and supremacy as a nation. Nazi evil consisted in rendering human beings “superfluous.” As the French philosopher Vladimir Jankélévitch argued, Jews were targeted for destruction not on account of what they are but for the fact that they are; the existence of Jews as such was deemed “evil” by the Nazi and not for anything that they did or possessed (Jankélévitch, 2005). Hence the need to fabricate a web of paranoid conspiracies of “Jewish intrigue” in order to establish an imaginary crime of the Jewish people against the Germans so as to legitimate the extermination of the Jewish people by the Nazis. This imagination of victimhood by the Nazis is connected to the phantasy of divine omnipotence: for an individual or nation desiring to become omnipotent like a god, there is “no reason why humans in the plural should exist at all,” as Arendt writes.
The Polish writer, journalist, and survivor of the Russian Gulag, Gustav Herling in his novel The Plague in Naples and his account of imprisonment A World Apart (Herling-Grudziński, 1986) characterizes the emergence of evil in the 20th-century as a plague and pestilence that brings “to the surface from the depths of the human soul all things that can human beings into a vile, wicked, and despicable being” (this metaphor of Nazi ideology of hatred as a virus would be taken up by Camus in his novel The Plague as well). Totalitarian institutions, ideologies of oppression and supremacy, and structural violence are forms of a cultural and social plague. For Herling, the moral lesson to be drawn from the 20th-century consists in the rehabilitation of a certain form of Manicheanism. We need to acknowledge the reality of evil and the conflict between good and evil as the fundamental and interminable drama of history and the human condition. It is interesting to observe that in casting for a different way of thinking about evil, Arendt metaphorically compared Nazi evil to a sprawling and spreading “fungus.” Keen to avoid a Romantic notion of Satanic evil as force that invades us from the outside as well as notion of moral evil as rooted in selfishness and narcissism, this metaphor can be read as suggesting that evil spreads like a viral contagion. It infects society and individuals, and thus cannot be localized to one person, a particular group, or institution.
The best example for this viral notion of evil – anti-Semitism as with other racisms is a pandemic – can be seen with how evil perpetuated itself through the proliferation of images and stereotypes as well as in ordinary ways of speaking. In his diaries of living under the Nazi regime in Germany, the scholar of French literature Victor Klemperer recorded how the infiltration of everyday language by Nazi anti-Semitic turns of phrases, words, and expressions. As Klemperer analyzed in his Language of the Third Reich: LTI: Lingua Tertii Imperii, the ideology of Nazism contaminated German language thus spreading the hatred; and this we see as the propagation of evil in the ways in which we speak and represent the Jews. As Klemperer writes: “It is not only Nazi actions that have to vanish, but also the Nazi cast of mind, the typical Nazi way of thinking, and its breeding ground: the language of Nazism (Klemperer & Brady, 2006).” But, unlike Herling who used the metaphor of evil as a plague to re-establish a Manichean view, Arendt uses the comparable metaphor of evil as a fungus to call for a critical and untiring vigilance of the banality of evil, of how we speak and think unthinkingly, so that we are encouraged to perpetually confront the fundamental question of evil for the sake of what she calls the love of the world.
Arendt, H. (2006). Eichmann in Jerusalem: A report on the banality of evil. Penguin.
Fackenheim, E. L. (1982). To mend the world: Foundations of future Jewish thought. Schocken Books.
Hayes, P. (2017). Why? Explaining the Holocaust. W. W. Norton & Company.
Herling-Grudziński, G. (1986). A world apart. Arbor House.
Jankélévitch, V. (2005). Forgiveness. University of Chicago Press.
Jonas, H. (1996). Mortality and Morality: A Search for the Good after Auschwitz. Northwestern UP.
Klemperer, V., & Brady, M. (2006). The language of the Third Reich: LTI, Lingua Tertii Imperii: a philologist’s notebook. Continuum.
Levi, P., & Woolf, S. J. (2013). If this is a man: The truce. Abacus.
Levinas, I. (2019). Kant: Religion within the Boundaries of Mere Reason,. Cambridge University Press.
Lyotard, J.-F. (2007). The differend: Phrases in dispute (7. printing). University of Minnesota Press.
- The Holocaust also provoked profound debate among Christian theologians. ↵
... any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group, as such:
- Killing members of the group;
- Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
- Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;
- Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
- Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group. United Nations
The Einsatzgruppen were special action groups (forces) of Nazi Security Police that followed the German army as it moved east, invading and occupying much of Europe. These ‘mobile killing squads,’ were best known for systematic murder of Jews in mass shooting operations on Soviet territory. United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
A belief in religious dualism based on the Persian prophet Mani. In philosophy, a synonym for dualism. Webster’s Dictionary
Philosopher and journalist Hannah Arendt’s view that, in Nazism, “totalitarianism has exploded the… accepted standards of moral judgment and has thereby broken the continuity of our history.” Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy