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Advanced Search Links. Product Close-up This product is not available for expedited shipping. Add To Cart. Men at Work: Life Beyond the Office. Strategic Pastoral Counseling, 2d ed. Strategies for Brief Pastoral Counseling. And yet he does not give up. On the contrary, he strives to find a place among the living.

He acquires a new language. He makes a few friends who, like himself, believe that the memory of evil will serve as a shield against evil; that the memory of death will serve as a shield against death.

Driven by Hope

This he must believe in order to go on. For he has just returned from a universe where God, betrayed by His creatures, covered His face in order not to see. A world where the past no longer counted — no longer meant anything. Stripped of possessions, all human ties severed, the prisoners found themselves in a social and cultural void. The Almighty himself was a slaughterer: it was He who decided who would live and who would die; who would be tortured, and who would be rewarded.

Night after night, seemingly endless processions vanished into the flames, lighting up the sky. Fear dominated the universe. Indeed this was another universe; the very laws of nature had been transformed. Children looked like old men, old men whimpered like children. Men and women from every corner of Europe were suddenly reduced to nameless and faceless creatures desperate for the same ration of bread or soup, dreading the same end. Even their silence was the same for it resounded with the memory of those who were gone. Life in this accursed universe was so distorted, so unnatural that a new species had evolved.

Waking among the dead, one wondered if one was still alive. And yet real despair only seized us later. As we emerged from the nightmare and began to search for meaning. All those doctors of law or medicine or theology, all those lovers of art and poetry, of Bach and Goethe, who coldly, deliberately ordered the massacres and participated in them. What did their metamorphosis signify?

Could anything explain their loss of ethical, cultural and religious memory? How could we ever understand the passivity of the onlookers and — yes — the silence of the Allies? And question of questions: Where was God in all this? It seemed as impossible to conceive of Auschwitz with God as to conceive of Auschwitz without God.

Therefore, everything had to be reassessed because everything had changed. All we know is that Auschwitz called that civilization into question as it called into question everything that had preceded Auschwitz. Scientific abstraction, social and economic contention, nationalism, xenophobia, religious fanaticism, racism, mass hysteria. All found their ultimate expression in Auschwitz. The next question had to be, why go on? If memory continually brought us back to this, why build a home? Why bring children into a world in which God and man betrayed their trust in one another?

Of course we could try to forget the past. Why not?

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Is it not natural for a human being to repress what causes him pain, what causes him shame? Like the body, memory protects its wounds. But for the first time in history, we could not bury our dead. We bear their graves within ourselves. Remembering is a noble and necessary act. The call of memory, the call to memory, reaches us from the very dawn of history.

No commandment figures so frequently, so insistently, in the Bible. It is incumbent upon us to remember the good we have received, and the evil we have suffered. On that day, the day of universal judgment, man appeals to God to remember: our salvation depends on it.

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If God wishes to remember our suffering, all will be well; if He refuses, all will be lost. Thus, the rejection of memory becomes a divine curse, one that would doom us to repeat past disasters, past wars. Nothing provokes so much horror and opposition within the Jewish tradition as war. Our abhorrence of war is reflected in the paucity of our literature of warfare. After all, God created the Torah to do away with iniquity, to do away with war 1. Warriors fare poorly in the Talmud: Judas Maccabeus is not even mentioned; Bar-Kochba is cited, but negatively 2.

Of course some wars may have been necessary or inevitable, but none was ever regarded as holy. For us, a holy war is a contradiction in terms. War dehumanizes, war diminishes, war debases all those who wage it. Perhaps, because wise men remember best. And yet it is surely human to forget, even to want to forget. The Ancients saw it as a divine gift.

Indeed if memory helps us to survive, forgetting allows us to go on living. How could we go on with our daily lives, if we remained constantly aware of the dangers and ghosts surrounding us? The Talmud tells us that without the ability to forget, man would soon cease to learn. Without the ability to forget, man would live in a permanent, paralyzing fear of death.

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Only God and God alone can and must remember everything. How are we to reconcile our supreme duty towards memory with the need to forget that is essential to life? No generation has had to confront this paradox with such urgency. She was seven, that little girl who went to her death without fear, without regret. Each one of us felt compelled to record every story, every encounter. Each one of us felt compelled to bear witness, Such were the wishes of the dying, the testament of the dead. Since the so-called civilized world had no use for their lives, then let it be inhabited by their deaths.


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The great historian Shimon Dubnov served as our guide and inspiration. His words were heeded.

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Overnight, countless victims become chroniclers and historians in the ghettos, even in the death camps. To testify became an obsession.


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  • They left us poems and letters, diaries and fragments of novels, some known throughout the world, others still unpublished. After the war we reassured ourselves that it would be enough to relate a single night in Treblinka, to tell of the cruelty, the senselessness of murder, and the outrage born of indifference: it would be enough to find the right word and the propitious moment to say it, to shake humanity out of its indifference and keep the torturer from torturing ever again.

    We thought it would be enough to read the world a poem written by a child in the Theresienstadt ghetto to ensure that no child anywhere would ever again have to endure hunger or fear.

    A naive undertaking? Of course. But not without a certain logic. We tried.