Friday, April 02, 2010

Genocide Studies / Jewish Holocaust

A Conscious Pariah: On Raul Hilberg
By Nathaniel Popper
The Nation, April 19, 2010
"Raul Hilberg was known for cultivating enemies. During faculty meetings at the University of Vermont, where he was a professor of political science from 1956 to 1991, the renowned historian of the Holocaust would unfailingly denounce the consensus position, whether it concerned faculty appointments or vacation policy. 'He was an intensely stubborn and contrary person,' one of his old colleagues told me. In The Politics of Memory, an autobiography published in 1996, Hilberg dedicated a chapter to attacking fellow historians whose work he considered derivative or misguided.
Among those admonished was Lucy Dawidowicz, a popular Holocaust scholar and author of the emotional bestseller The War Against the Jews (1975); Dawidowicz provided 'vaguely consoling words' that 'could easily be clutched by all those who did not wish to look deeper,' Hilberg complained. But no one who wrote about the Holocaust nettled Hilberg more than Hannah Arendt. Hilberg's anger toward the German refugee and New York intellectual erupted with the publication of Eichmann in Jerusalem, in which Arendt told the tale of Adolf Eichmann, the man responsible for implementing the Final Solution, against the backdrop of his trial for war crimes and crimes against humanity. (Eichmann was captured by Mossad agents in Argentina in May 1960. His trial in Jerusalem began in April 1961, and he was executed in May 1962.) Arendt's study was serialized in five installments in The New Yorker in the spring of 1963 and then quickly published in book form in May of that year by Viking Press with its now infamous subtitle, 'A Report on the Banality of Evil.' The work has attained a mythic status. ... Hilberg died in 2007, and among the private papers he left to the University of Vermont library is a box stuffed with materials about his scholarly antagonists. Folders filled with Arendt clippings occupy half of the tightly jammed container. [...]"

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