Four Images Between Two Impossibilities Essay

1471 words - 6 pages

Didi-Huberman situates the four images taken from Auschwitz between two impossibilities. These two impossibilities come from the unimaginable and unrepresentable character of the event that took place in Auschwitz. This unrepresentability is achieved through the actions of the S.S. to conceal the extermination of the Jew as a state secret. The system of exterminating the Jew is described as the machine by Didi-Huberman, aimed to destroy the Jew and eliminate any chance to represent the genocide. This was carried out through witness obliteration of the Jew and the Sonderkommando. The Sonderkommando are slaves of death according to Didi-Huberman, as they are bound to their purpose to help exterminate the Jew and eliminate their trace of existence. They are slaves to their imminent death as, " Twelve squads succeeded each other... each was eliminated at the end of a few months, and 'as its initiation, the next squad burnt corpses of its predecessors'"(Didi-Huberman, 4). So, the Jew including the Sonderkommando, knew that they were to be eliminated as witnesses to the fact as their deaths were stolen by the machine. The Jew and the Sonderkommando remain slaves of death as the mission of the S.S. was to not let a single witness survive. Yet, the Sonderkommando were able to snatch four photos from the hell of Auschwitz that threaten to refute the two impossibilities Didi-Huberman argues in his article Four Pieces of Film Snatched From Hell.
The witness obliteration was complimented by "the fear that the testimony itself would be obliterated, even if it were transmitted to the outside"( Didi-Huberman, 6). The Sonderkommando's testimony according to Didi-Huberman, could be senseless, incomprehensible and unimaginable from living in the hell of Auschwitz. The possibility of messages reaching the outside by the Sonderkommando was hopeless, so they testified to the earth by digging messages contained in bottles. Didi-Huberman states, "digs undertaken around the boarders of Auschwitz crematoria have since brought to light... devastating, barely legible writings of these slaves of death"(6). So, Didi-Huberman argues the unrepresentable nature of Auschwitz through the impossibility of testimony of the true character of Auschwitz. The machine of death within Auschwitz destroyed the witnesses and their testimony and thereby the chance of representation. The second impossibility is present from this argument as well as the testimony left from Auschwitz is interpreted as unimaginable. The death camp eliminated the chance of testimony from the sheer horror of the event that left any witnesses testimony hollow, incomprehensible and unimaginable.
The first impossibility of representation was achieved through the actions of the S.S. to eliminate witnesses and testimony which, enters into discourse with the concept of super-representation by Jean-Luc Nancy. As Nancy argues his theory in Forbidden Representation, "The death camps are an act of super-representation,...

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