The Complexities of Justice

The readings for this week make clear that the pursuit of justice for victims of the Holocaust expanded beyond the legal system. In his article “Everybody Gets Fragebogened Sooner or Later’: The Denazification Questionnaire as Cultural Text,” Werner Sollors displays the wide reach that the project of denazification had to have as well as somewhat of its unrealistic expectations to altogether purge Nazism. The reading begs questions of what defines a Nazi and Nazism. While the questionnaire attempted to make perpetration of Nazi violence straightforward by establishing different levels of offenders, this very system actually took too narrow a focus on Nazi perpetration rather than seeing its various forms and levels. It was also contingent on people answering truthfully. This relates to an overall theme of Holocaust memory that I picked up on throughout several of the readings. This memory was something that had to be confronted by all those who experienced the Holocaust in addition to the next generation who lived under the shadow of the Holocaust as Mary Fulbrook contends. Memory was also imperative in seeking justice for victims which is something that Fulbrook complicates.

There is a certain duality in the expectation of Holocaust victims to at once relieve memories of the Holocaust, memories that are deeply entrenched with trauma, while looking into their futures and the future of their children. Fulbrook gets to the heart of how complex fair justice for all victims of the Holocaust has been. If we think of victimhood in terms of singularity rather than variation, we risk erasing certain victim groups. Fulbrook illustrates this by shedding light on the way that gay men struggled to be recognized as victims of the Holocaust. This element of the reading brought to mind our discussion of Memorial to Homosexuals persecuted under Nazism and the absence of commemoration to lesbian victims of the Holocaust.

Ultimately, when considering the path to justice after the Holocaust, we need to think in terms of variation and nuance so as to properly recognize complexities.

One Reply to “The Complexities of Justice”

  1. I appreciate the authors use of “justice beyond the legal” system. This is a very nice grounding that I would have liked to see further elaborated on. Perhaps with a consideration of the specific domains that justice is achieved. I have argued that history as a discipline is a form of restorative justice, in my response this week.

    There is a lovely complication of belief when the author deicsusses tht work of Werner Sollors writting “what defines a Nazi and Nazism?” This can be put in direct conversation with Fullbrook’s work even further. In Fullbrook’s chapter “Discomfort Zones” she explores the complicity and self-justifcation of those that directly supported the Nazi regime, though those like the school teacher of Rudolf Höss’ children, have emerged as victims of the past with indirect involvement.

    The author uses the Holocaust as a point of reference however it may have been better to use the Third Reich or the Nazi regime as the historical conduit on which they have offered criticism. This may have allowed a greater space to speak about the non-Jewish group such as homosexual victims in much clearer terms. Conversly, proboblamtizing the narratives of the Holocaust by integrating if its history and the event itself is the exclusive domain of affected Jewish peoples may have offered a rich excerise to embold the analysis.

    I absolutely agree that variation, nuance, and complexities should be considered when reckoning with the past. It would have been nice to have a few more examples of what the author meant by this.

    A lot to think about and a lot hear to enrich our dicussions on Monday. Thanks to author for this thoughtful contribution.

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