October 25, 2015


It is tempting to imagine that a simple idea in the minds of simple people decades past and thousands of miles away can explain a complex event. The notion that local east European antisemitism killed the Jews of eastern Europe confers upon others a sense of superiority akin to that the Nazis once felt. These people are quite primitive, we can allow ourselves to think. Not only does this account fail as an explanation of the Holocaust; its racism prevents us from considering the possibility that not only Germans and Jews but also local peoples were individual human agents with complex goals that were reflected in politics. When we fall into the trap of ethnicization and collective responsibility, we collude with Nazi and Soviet propagandists in the abolition of political thought and the lifting of individual agency.
--Timothy Snyder, Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning

Posted by Dr. Frank at October 25, 2015 07:05 PM