Friday, February 10, 2012

A Letter to Daniel Goldhagen: Dear Professor Goldhagen: I came across several Utubes of your conversations with Mr. Heffner about your brilliant book "Hitler's Willing Executioners: Ordinary Germans and the Holocaust." I had the distinct pleasure around 1996 to listen to you lecture at Facing History in Brookline. Ever since that evening I have been smitten with your articulate expression and analysis of not only German history during the Holocaust period but also how it relates to our contemporary experience as well. I did buy your first book and at some point when I finish my stack of reading I would love to read your work A Moral Reckoning: The Role of the Catholic Church in the Holocaust and Its Unfulfilled Duty of Repair as well as current writings on contemporary antisemitism.

I am 63 years old, born in 1948 in a suburb of Boston. Since my first introduction to the Holocaust by my parent's discussion of it and how it related to our experience as American Jews to the first documentary I saw at age 10 on the Nazi death camps with all the infamous pictures of the mountains of skeletons, piles of shoes, spectacles and other gruesome Holocaust detail not a day goes by that I am not thinking in some way about the experience of the Jewish people -- the six million. When the weather is hot, when the weather is cold, when springtime arrives ultimately followed in time by the chill of fall I think about the Jews of Europe. I think about the camps and how they survived the harsh elements with no food, no water, living and dying in unspeakable conditions. I think about my grandparents who immigrated to America at the turn of the 20th century. They came from Kiev and Minsk. The shtetls where they were born, of course, were cleansed of Jews. Had they stayed there I would not be writing this email.

As the years pass, as human beings are inclined memories fade, generations pass and those skeletons long since turn to dust and are gone with the wind. I am glad and hope that you keep our people's memory alive never ceasing to talk of the onslaughts we faced, how we endured and indeed prospered so that never again truly means never again and Jewish memory of our tragic history and perseverance under great assault goes on. It is not only a lesson for our time it is a lesson for the ages. When we have long passed the ever present phenomenon and questions of man's inhumanity to man, his ethics, morality and the power of the state over him will remain. The questions of what is good, right and permissible are eternal and will never die.

Thank you for writing some of the most insightful, complete, and eminently articulate books of our time. You are a joy to all who have the pleasure of hearing and reading your words and to those who yearn for a more just world.

No comments: