PECOB Portal on Central Eastern
and Balkan Europe
by IECOB & AIS
Università di Bologna  
 
Sunday December 05, 2021
 
Testata per la stampa
 
 
 

Old jews, new jews: why have anti-semitism and anti-gypsym survived Auschwitz?

by Henry R. Huttenbach

The question as posed is a challenge, not only to those who assigned it as a theme to be explored, and not only to those who expect to answer it, but also to all of Europe in which anti-Semitism persistently continues to show its face half a century after the closing of the Death Camps. Five decades separate us from the last days of the Gas Chambers and of the Crematoria, and still the embers of hatred for Jews, for "The Despised Other", smoulder beneath the surface of post-World War II Europe, erupting spasmodically from Madrid to Moscow. The question as phrased is a direct challenge to all of European heritage precisely because it contains its own answer, an answer no one desires to express or hear, for it embodies a confession of a fundamental flaw in the fraying tapestry that is Europe today after Bosnia. To give voice to the answer, however circuitously, would be to confront head on the centrifugal danger that, if not neutralised, could unravel the process of European unification and integration. The question as put is a classic example of a rhetorical query of a combined question and answer: thus "Why is it so?" implies, at the same time, "Hatred for Jews did not die in Auschwitz; it was not even mortally wounded". The only question remaining is: "How forthright will the attempt to examine the answer be?" Not how accurate, but how honest? Unavoidably it will be accusatory and, quite possibly, offensive. As one performs cultural vivisection of that which was, still is, and, most probably, will continue to be an attribute of a Europe chronically infected by the virus of continuing anti-Semitism, there has to be, of necessity, a shocked response. Hence the underlying tension of the topic for which the messenger is all too often blamed.

PECOB: Portal on Central Eastern and Balkan Europe - University of Bologna - 1, S. Giovanni Bosco - Faenza - Italy

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