To What Extent Has Arno Mayer (Historian) Understood The 'holocaust'?

2799 words - 11 pages

To what extent has Arno Mayer understood the 'Holocaust'?As the sun prepares to set on yet another century of humanity, it is a time to reflect on the hallmarks that have changed our society, either through good or bad. Unfortunately, the event, that produced the greatest change, was also the darkest in our brief history. This event was the 'Holocaust.' Historians, today, continue to puzzle at its origins and have formulated several theories in an attempt to explain what was the 'Holocaust.' However, its mystery lies hidden in the understanding of it. Recently, Jewish American historian Arno Mayer has emerged as a possible candidate to solve this genocidal riddle. Mayer, who escaped the wrathful clutches of Nazism, utilises both is Jewish background and his current historical knowledge to fertilise his interpretation of the 'Holocaust.' He argues that the Judeocide ('Holocaust') was a cataclysm of infamies, which resulted from Germany's failure in a all-or-nothing war with Russian, therefore it was a "propitiatory act and an act of vengeance." Mayer conceptualises the holocaust as three 'inseparable developments': the formation of the Nazi regime and the construction of the foundations of National Socialism; the gigantic military crusade against Soviet Russia and communism; and thirdly, how the debilitating repercussions of this crusade led to the genesis of the 'Holocaust.' Finally, he reflects on how the memory of the Holocaust has become restricted and distorted, by examining its sectarian dimensions of selective remembering and selective forgetting. As he himself states in the prologue of his book Why did the heavens not darken? :"I have tried not only to contemplate the circumstances in which millions of Jews -along with millions of non-Jews- were reduced to 'dust' in the seconds of historical time but also to recapture the evanescent 'light' of their torment to illuminate the historical landscape in which it occurred."In today's world, the word 'Holocaust' has divergent meanings -death, tyranny, devastation, etc.- which can be interpreted on both literal and metaphorical platforms. But, because of our multi-cultural orientation, to singularize the atrocities that occurred in a dark epoch of 'rampant instability' into a universal word is to deprive many of their renditions of that event. Many historians have attempted to redefine the 'Holocaust' in their own words -'Shoah,' 'Auschwitz,' 'Judeocide'- however these definition have remained synonymous with the common conceptualization of the 'Holocaust', as the systematic mass murder of the European Jews by the Nazis during the Second World War.However, the universal meaning of the 'Holocaust' is not the same as the understanding of it. In historiography, the understanding of any historical event is affected by two primary factors: firstly the historical context in which they were understood, in accordance with the historiography that affected them; and secondly the ideological, ethnic and...

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