- Steven T. Katz and the Eckardts: Response to a Misrepresentation
- Shofar: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Jewish Studies
- Purdue University Press
- Volume 13, Number 4, Summer 1995
- p. pp. 73-78
- View Citation
Readers' Forum 73 foundation in the historicization of genocide and the role of the Shoah in particular, which one may traverse with confidence and surety. Steven T. Katz and the Eckardts: Response to a Misrepresentation by Alice and Roy Eckardt Professors Emeriti at Lehigh University and Senior Associate Fellows of the Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies, .University of Oxford. In the inicial volume of The Holocaust in Historical Context, Steven T. Katz endeavors to establish a finding that the Holocaust is a phenomenological , historical, intentional novum, a singular "event without real precedent or parallel. ..."1 Professor Katz appears so anxious to show the integrity of his claim that he is led to expend some 700 pagesin expatiating upon it-and this is only the first of three volumes yet! In truth, th~ above finding has long since become palpable old hat. The Eckardts presented it decades ago (along with many other analysts) and they have never given it up. But Katz somehow finds it necessary to assemble, as though in a lineup, countless interpreters and scholars as objects of his wrath-not excepting, as particularly conspicuous "culprits," Alice and Roy Eckardt. Others will speak for themselves. With respect to the Eckardts, the outcome ofKatz's pursuit is almost total misrepresentation. The writers are 'Steven T. Katz, TheHolocaustinHistoricalCotitext, Vol. I (New York: Oxford University Press, 1994), PI'. 13, 16, 24, and throughout. Through the years, the Eckardts have striven womanfully/manfully to avoid believing that a little demon is out there. working away scrambling their name, a perverse incarnation of printer's devil. But when in reading Katz's book they beheld "Eckardt" and "Eckhardt" on the very same line and barely two words apart (p. 29), their struggle against superstition received a severe jolt. Such excruciating proXimity can only bespeak painstaking artistry. 74 SHOFAR Summer 1995 Vol. 13, No.4 accused of falling into a kind of mysticism, of practicing a form of theologicaVmetaphysical mystification. Since, in truth, the Eckardts have always looked upon mysticism (in the phrasing of their mentor Reinhold Niebuhr) as "mist at the beginning, schism at the end, and I in the middle," they feel obliged to respond. And since all mystification Of the Shoah is explicitly condemned in the very essay that bears the brunt of Katz's calumniation,z it is most essential that his distortions be corrected. I. A major stratagem employed by Katz is to turn affirmations and reports by the Eckardts of one or another point of view into universalistic (scientific and/or metaphysical) claims, and especially the third of three views they present and describe. Put differently, he destroys the entire context of their statements. Eckardt and Eckardt have gone so far as to write ("The Holocaust and the Enigma of Uniqueness"): "The CrucifIXion and the Resurrection are alldecisively ~ transfigured because the absolute God-forsakenness of Jewish children renders the ostensible absoluteness of the cross ofJesus nonabsolute and the Resurrection is transfigured because in the Holocaust the intrinsically triumphant nature of the dogma of the Resurrection of Jesus is finally revealed as an absolute seal of hostility and guarantee of the destruction of Jews" (p. 173). Whether the Eckardts believe or do not believe such things has nothing to do with the issue here. The fateful issue instead is whether there can be a legitimate philosophic apprehension of the singularity of the Holocaust that does not fall into illicit mystification. Furthermore and equally decisive, the negativist rendering of the resurrection of Jesus· by one of the present writers was completely repudiated by him several years back, a change of view that was published and circulated in more than adequate time for Katz to be obligated to pay attention to it in his 1994 book. That repudiation does much in itself to abolish Katz's critique, though that critique remains erroneous willy nilly. The point is that the question of Jesus' resurrection/nonresurrection lacks any substantive 'Alice 1. Eckardt and A. Roy Eckardt, "The Holocaust and the Enigma of Uniqueness: A Philosophical Effort at Practical Clarification," tbe Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 450 (1980), pp. 165-178. ~Katz changes the writers' wording to "all decish...