Neat millions of pairs of abandoned shoes
Creased with mute presence of those whose
Faces both stare and vanish. Which ghetto?
Warsaw, Vilna, Lodz, Riga, Kovno.
Eight hundred dark-eyed girls from Salonica
Bony and sag-breasted singing the Hatikvah
Tread the barefoot floor to a shower-room.
Friedlnder, Berenstein, Menashe, Blum.
Each someone’s fondled face. A named few.
Did they hold hands the moment they knew?
I’ll change their shame to praise and renown in all
The earth… Always each face and shoeless footfall
A breathing memory behind the gossamer wall.
(From The Gossamer Wall)
Accessed at http://osiadhail.com/poem/
Higher stubbornness? I’d recast the impulse behind it this way: No, dammit, whatever I decide about the relationship to between God and evil, between God and Jewish suffering, however unsatisfied I might be by other attempts to explain it, however much I might resent God’s apparent silence or absence in the death camps, however much I reject the notion of some ‘larger plan’ in which God required the murder of millions of children to accomplish some inscrutable end, however much I reject all the consolations and rationalizations of theodicy’s attempt to explain Hitler, I refuse to allow Hitler the power, refuse to allow Hitler to be the catalyst, the defining issue over which I will reject the God my ancestors have lived with and died for, for better or worse, for three thousand years. Reject God for any other reason, for nonexistence, for silence, for death, but not for Hitler, don’t give Hitler that power, that posthumous victory.”
quote concerning Fackenheim’s belief in God, by Ron Rosenbaum in Explaining Hitler
One can sense why Lanzmann finds in the impressionable plasticity of the baby pictures a fatally alluring invitation, an invitation that lures the unwary into the seductive labyrinth of ratiocination, the deceptive and dangerous promise of understanding. Dangerous perhaps because at the heart of the labyrinth the forbidden fruit on this particular tree of knowledge, lurks the logic of the aphorism: “To understand all is to forgive all.” To embark upon the attempt to understand Hitler, understand all the processes that transformed this innocent babe into a mass murderer, is to risk making his crimes ‘understandable’ and thus, Lanzmann implies, to acknowledge the forbidden possibility of having to forgive Hitler.
Explaining Hitler, by Ron Rosenbaum