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Post-Holocaust Struggles with Forgiveness, Reconciliation, Justice

David Patterson

Publication Year: 2012

Nine contributors tackle questions about the nature of memory and forgiveness after the Holocaust. This book - created out of shared concerns about forgiveness, reconciliation, and justice, and out of a desire to investigate differences between religious traditions - represents an effort to spark meaningful dialogue between Jews and Christians and to encourage others to participate in similar inter- and intrafaith inquiries.

Published by: University of Washington Press

Series: Pastora Goldner Series in Post-Holocaust Studies

Title Page, Copyright

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Prologue: “Did you say: after? Meaning what?”

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pp. xiii-xviii

“October 1944” is one of the chapters in Survival in Auschwitz, Primo Levi’s classic Holocaust memoir. As autumn’s light and warmth retreated, Levi knew that the devastation of another Auschwitz winter . . .

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Part One: Forgiveness

Relatively few people have never felt the need for forgiveness, asked to receive it, and found relief when it was granted. Forgiveness is important, but as an after-word, forgiveness also poses . . .

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1 / Forgiveness, Reconciliation, and Jewish Memory after Auschwitz

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pp. 5-27

as we enter the twenty-first century, the Holocaust is moving from the realm of actual experience to the realm of memory. Fewer and fewer people alive today were actual participants in, or witnesses of, the . . .

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2 / The Face of Forgiveness in a Post-Holocaust World

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pp. 28-54

The name Auschwitz signals a threshold in Christian history. Marked by a long night of wrestling with the violence in our own confessional traditions, we Christians cross the boundary of . . .

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3 / Forgiveness after the Holocaust

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pp. 55-80

At the outset, consider Emmanuel Lévinas’s warning: “A world where forgiveness is almighty becomes inhuman.”2 Easy and omnipresent forgiveness destroys human responsibility and opens the way for new . . .

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Part Two: Reconciliation

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pp. 81-83

Terrible things happen when people do not get along. The Holocaust and September 11 testify to that. Hence, reconciliation deserves to be high on the list of important after-words. In fact, . . .

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4 / Useless Experience: Its Significance for Reconciliation after Auschwitz

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pp. 85-114

A summer example of what I call Holocaust politics erupted in 2001.1 This flashpoint reignited touchy controversy about a decades-old problem: the Vatican’s reluctance, if not refusal, to open fully its archives . . .

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5 / Anthropological Remarks on Reconciliation after Auschwitz

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pp. 115-141

In august 1996, I was traveling in Israel with a group of Canadian teachers working on Holocaust education. I was the only German in the group. One day, after a presentation by a survivor, I asked her . . .

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6 / Struggles for Recognition in an Era of Globalization: The Necessity of a Theology of Reconciliation from a Political-Theological Perspective after Auschwitz

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pp. 142-166

Every theology is a political theology because theology is deeply steeped in political meaning, and all religious thought and behavior is subject to political analysis. We can say that theology is . . .

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Part Three: Justice

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pp. 167-169

Let justice roll down like waters,” proclaimed Amos, “and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream” (Amos 5:24). Almost always, as that Jewish prophet knew, . . .

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7 / G-d, World, Humanity: Jewish Reflectionson Justice after Auschwitz

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pp. 171-196

While the problematic nature of attaining justice for Auschwitz is clear enough, the status of justice after Auschwitz is not so evident. With regard to justice for Auschwitz, the apparent . . .

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8 / The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: Just Reconciliation in the Shadows of the Holocaust

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pp. 197-223

Auschwitz continues to cast its long shadow over all that is human. Like the other contributions to this volume, this chapter strives to further the process of reexamining fundamental ethical concerns in the . . .

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9 / The Post-Holocaust Jewish Heart

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pp. 224-248

On May 15, 2001, the United Jewish Appeal-Federation honored Thomas Middelhoª, head of the Bertelsmann Music Group, for his commitment to Jewish causes and for his eªorts in publishing the . . .

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Postscript: An After That Is Yet to Be

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pp. 249-253

Reaching the end of these dialogical encounters, we come to no closure. Indeed, the aim of dialogical encounter is not to have the last word but to summon a latent word, an after-word, that might take the . . .


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pp. 255-266

About the Editors and Contributors

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pp. 267-270


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pp. 271-275

E-ISBN-13: 9780295803142
E-ISBN-10: 0295803142
Print-ISBN-13: 9780295984063
Print-ISBN-10: 0295984066

Publication Year: 2012

Series Title: Pastora Goldner Series in Post-Holocaust Studies

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Reconciliation -- Religious aspects -- Congresses.
  • Forgiveness -- Religious aspects -- Congresses.
  • Holocaust, Jewish (1939-1945) -- Influence -- Congresses.
  • Holocaust, Jewish (1939-1945) -- Moral and ethical aspects -- Congresses.
  • Religion and justice -- Congresses.
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