Epistemics of the holocaust considering the question of “why?” And of “how?”

The Holocaust was a rupture in civilisation – a Zivilisationsbruch –, a shattering of ontological certainty. The perception of the event enshrined in the notion of “rupture in civilisation” is the result of both the historical and the conceptual engagement with the event. Its manifest content seeks to combine two ways of discerning which are in fact opposed to one another: a particular one and a universal one. The particular perspective reflects the experience undergone by Jews as Jews of having been destroyed everywhere and solely because of their belonging, i.e. because of their alleged origin. It was hence the experience of being exposed to total extermination without any reason. Never before had anything of this kind taken place: a rupture in civilisation, carried out upon the Jews. The significance of the concept is further-reaching, however. The concept of rupture in civilisation seeks to denote the indeed singular circumstance of the extermination of human persons by human persons as the transgression of all the ethical and instrumental limits of comportment which had hitherto been considered as certain and secure. Transgression of this kind marks a rupture in civilisation that is carried out upon all humankind. The phenomenon of the crime against humanity experienced by the Jews can, however, be split and regarded from those two opposing perspectives: one that argues historically and that is above all adopted by the victims, while the other is an anthropologically inclined perception of the events which rather reaches further into a universal domain. The latter focuses on the significance of the events for the species as such. These perspectives are necessarily unequal. They may even work against other.
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