Modernity and the Holocaust The world will never be the same… Key Issues in Information System Development Carlos Sampedro – [email_address] Albert Poghosyan – [email_address]
“ One drop, than second… makes one big drop, but not two…” “ Nostalgia”, AndreyTarkovski
“… highly civilized human beings are flying overhead, trying to kill me. They do not feel any enmity to me as an individual, nor I against them… Most of them, I have no doubt, are kind-hearted law-abiding men who would never dream of committing murder in private life.”
So what is it?
The Holocaust , also known as Ha-Shoah (Hebrew: השואה ), Khurbn (Yiddish: חורבן or Halokaust , האלאקאוסט ) or Porajmos (Romani, also Samudaripen ), is the name applied to the genocide of minority groups of Europe and North Africa during World War II by Nazi Germany and its collaborators.
So what is it?
One way is to present the Holocaust as something happened to the Jews; as an even in Jewish history. Nothing to do with your history, or your reality...
It makes holocaust comfortable uncharacteristic for you and differ from another words such as genocide. Common example is to present the holocaust as culmination of anti-Semitism. (Something which could happen only with Jews.)
So what is it?
Another way is pointing on opposite direction - is to present the Holocaust as product of modernity. The new and terrible technology, which has been developed by well dressed and completely in mind persons.
When viewed in this fashion, and accompanied with the proper citation of other historical horrors, it becomes all too convenient to see the Holocaust as ‘unique’ – but normal, after all.
So, we are going to present the idea of Holocaust/Genocide.
Present the logical development of technology of killing and perception of genocide by modernity.
Also we need to name several characteristics that, taken together, distinguish holocaust from other genocides in history.
Holocaust comes from Greek holokauston (“that which is completely burnt”), which was a translation of Hebrew ‘ōlâ (literally “that which goes up,” that is, in smoke). In the 20th century holocaust has taken on a variety of figurative meanings, summarizing the effects of war, rioting, storms, epidemic diseases, and even economic failures.
The term "genocide" was coined by Raphael Lemkin (1900-1959), a Polish-Jewish legal scholar, in 1943, from the roots genos (Greek for family, tribe or race) and -cide (Latin - occidere or cideo - to massacre). The concept of the crime, which later evolved into the idea of genocide, was based mostly on the experience of Assyrians massacred in Iraq on 11 August 1933 and on the Armenian Genocide during World War I.
Difference of Holocaust from Genocide
The important fact is that the difference between the Holocaust and any genocide is not that it was done with Jews, but the way it was done!
Who are the people who actually carry out such work?
What are the circumstances in which other ‘good’ people allow them to do it?
And most important question!
Is the Holocaust the failure or a product of modernity?
Many researchers assure us that the Holocaust was the failure, not a product of modernity…
It is only too easy to over-react to the apparent bankruptcy of established vision – to try the ‘obvious’ exit from the theoretical impasse to…
Failure or Product?
… to proclaim the Holocaust a ‘paradigm’ of modern civilization, its ‘natural’, ‘normal’ and maybe even common product…
“ Had Nazi Power prevailed, authority to determine what ought to be would have found that no natural laws were broken and crimes against God and humanity were committed in the Holocaust…”
Failure or Product?
As it happen with Armenians in Ottoman Empire…
When somebody ask Hitler about what they are going to do with peoples opinion about Holocaust, he said:
“ Nobody remembers Armenians now, when Turks kill all of them, nobody will remember Jews…”
The Holocaust was not and antithesis of modern civilization and everything it stands for…
It is really possible that the Holocaust could merely have uncovered another face of the same modern society whose other, more familiar, face we so admire.
Development of modernity
Henry Feingold insists:
That the episode of the Holocaust was indeed a new development in long, and on the whole blameless, history of modern society;
A development we had no way to expect and predict, like an appearance of a new malign strain of an allegedly tamed virus…
Ethos of Dominant Europe
The Final Solution marked the juncture where the European industrial system went awry; instead of enhancing life, it began to consume itself.
It was by dint of that industrial system and the Ethos attached to it that Europe was able to dominate the world.
And that Idea of Dominant Europe demand new skills and technologies…
Mainly the technology of killing
Concentration camps was also a mundane extension of the modern factory system.
And instead of producing good, the raw material was human beings and the end-product was death.
Engineers design the crematoria; manager design the system of bureaucracy that worked with a zest and efficiency more backward nations would envy.
Perfect example of massive scheme of social engineering…
All plan of Holocaust itself was a reflection of the modern scientific spirit gone awry: the development of technology as it was…
There is more than a wholly connection between the applied technology of mass production line and the applied technology of the concentration camps, with its vision of a profusion of death.
Failure of Civilization
So what makes the holocaust much more disturbing is the awareness that if it could happen on such a massive scale elsewhere, then it can happen anywhere; it is all within the range of human possibility, and like it or not, concentration camps expands the universe of consciousness no less than landing on the moon!
Holocaust is understood as a failure of civilization
Civilised society is the moral emerging form the pre-social Barbarity
Humanity is moving in the right way to avoid this to happen again, but …
Not fast enough
Holocaust showed weakness of human nature
Technology & Efficiency?
Industrial society (technological)
Bureaucratic society (organisational)
Lack of moral against efficiency
Bureaucratization and efficiency blind the repulsiveness of its goal
Submission to organization (trained to be subordinated)
Jewish out of Germany
Send them to Poland
Became Jewish out of Europe
Send Jewish to Madagascar
Idea of Russia
Send them beyond Archangel-Astrakhan
Border with the German Ruled Europe
Not materialization of USSR defeat
New solution raises
Stop Jewish emigration
More effective method to solve the problem
Solutions for problems implementation
Changes due expansion of organization goals
Scientific principles and process management
Not irrational or reminisces of previous barbarity
Exact specification of roles
Not stimuli for other action
Everything and everybody have a function in the organization.
Promoting German goal
Jewish efficiency & incorruptibility
Tool for German Administration
In situation of choice
“ middle man” shields between action and actors’ sight
Many acts for actors exists only verbally
They never lived them
In the other hand
Who has done the act view it as someone else's action
Distance between the act and its consequences
Physical or psychic distant, trying to avoid moral dilemmas and decrease moral choice
Making victims psychologically invisible
Modern war: long distance weapons.
Holocaust: machine guns vs gas chambers
Consequences for civilization
Elimination of violence
Concentrating it under state control
Safeguard social pace and individual security
Double side of modern civilization
Rationalisation – not moral evaluation
Race for technology development
Civilization now includes death camps and Genocide among its material and spiritual products
as simple as Microwave and Rock Operas
All this seems as a natural development of our civilization…
And even if we could prove it – we wouldn’t, as it is too shocking…
Rationalization and Bureaucratization allows great effectiveness without taking care about any kind of moral or ethical considerations.