- Why do we study the Holocaust? And why not only
in literature or history, but also in sociology?
- What doe Weissmark mean when she uses the term
"justice?" What do you think that "justice" means, whether it
is similar to or different from what Weissmark says?
- Compare and contrast Todorov's notions of
"heroism" and "ordinary virtues."
- What does Bauman mean by his analogy between
the state and the garden?
- Summarize Simmel's model of the metropolitan
- Think of at least one element in Bauman's work
and one element in Simmel's work that might help explain why the
Holocaust occured in the modern era.
- What are some of the positive and negative
features of bureaucracy as a form of social organization?
- In what ways does bureaucratic social
organization make the task of genocide easier and/or less
- In what ways can bureaucratic social
organization impede efficiency?
- In what ways are race and racism uniquely
- What are some of the similarities and
differences between "modern" anti-Semitism and "traditional"
- Horkheimer and Adorno outline two types of
anti-Semitism: the Nazi type and the popular type. Explain what each of
these is and how they differ.
- Outline at least three explanations for how it
is that "ordinary Germans" were psychologically capable of mass
- In what ways did the history and development of
Germany as a nation lead it to a place where Hitler's goals seemed
acceptable to citizens?
- Do you think Goldhagen's book is more
convincing as an explanation for why Germans were perpetrators, why
Jews were victims, both, or neither? Why?
- What are the chief points of the argument
between Goldhagen & Browning?
- How do we tell the difference between the
factors that actually motivated the perpetrators to kill and the
justifications they relied on after-the-fact?
- Do Browning & Goldhagen mean the same thing
with their use of the term "anti-Semitism"?
- What is an "ordinary" person?
- What does it mean to be a "citizen?"
- How does the condition of statelessness make it
easier for a country to conduct a campaign of genocide?
- Discuss some similarities between the situation
of Jews during the Holocaust and the condition of stateless people
- Discuss some of the factors that account for
the variation in responses by countries other than Germany to German
- How much did the outside world really
know about the Holocaust while it occurred?
- What are some of the reasons (both strategic
& ethical/moral) for and against the bombing of Auschwitz and the
rail lines leading to it?
- Why does Todorov beleive it is so important
that those who may be in any sense "guilty" of crimes related to the
Holocaust acknowledge their participation in these crimes?
- Why were non-Axis countries so reluctant to
participate in the rescue and resettlement of refugees?
- Why does our collective memory, as Americans,
of the US role in the Holocaust differ so substantially from the
- How, within the
of sociology, can we understand what morality is?
- Todorov cites
as saying that the minimum human dignity is the capacity to choose your
death even when someone plans to kill you. How do you react to this
for Todorov, are the two main
requirements of a moral life
- What are “ordinary vices”?
- How might the ordinary vice of fragmentation be
related to the concept of bureaucracy?
- What, in the final analysis, does
Todorov think evil is?
- In what ways was the Nazi social structure
capitalist, and what ways was it not?
- What does it mean to put an economic value on a
- Do you think the "Aryanizations" project was
motivated more by anti-Semitism or by capitalistic greed? Why?
- How do the reparations debates relate to the
issue of justice?
- What were the goals of the reparations
programs, both for the perpetrators and for the victims?
- How does the story of corporate actions during
the Holocaust blur the lines between perpetrator and bystander?
- Was the
Census a morally-neutral technology which was exploited by the Nazis
for a deadly end, or did it contain deadliness within itself? Why do
you believe this is true?
important were technological differences in explaining differences in
the death rates in France and Holland? What other factors might have
the ways in which the story of German industry intersects with the
story of international responses to the Holocaust.
- What does it mean to speak of “lives not worth
- How are the stories of the nurses and the
reserve police battalion officers similar, and how are they different?
- Would you say that euthanasia is a modern
technology or not? Why?
- When, if ever, is it appropriate to use the
results of Nazi medical experiments in contemporary science?
- How can we understand the role of physicians
within the Holocaust, given that physicians’ professional training asks
them to become healers rather than killers?
- Is science always morally/ethically objective,
or does it take on the moral/ethical biases of scientific practitioners?
- What does Arendt mean by the phrase “the
banality of evil?”
- Was Eichmann “following orders” or was he
initiating atrocities? How or why does this distinction matter, morally
and historically? Or does it?
- Why do people obey authority, even when it
contradicts their normally-held ethics, values, morals, or ideals?
- What are some explanations for the behavior of
the Judenrat during the Holocaust?
- Explain what we mean by the idea of
- Todorov says that
rescuers were not heroes. Why does he say this, and what are the
alternative ways of understanding their actions as forms of resistance?
- In order to engage in any sort of collective
resistance, people must first become aware that resistance is possible.
What is it that raised the consciousness of those in the Belorussian
forests so that they began to resist?
- Describe the social arrangement of the Bielski
- What does Nieberger mean by the use of the term
- Why do people, according to Todorov, work so
hard to continue to ignore or forget the story of the camps even today?
- How would Todorov respond to the existence of
- What does Adorno say about how we should
understand the moral implications of technology?
- What is the difference between the process of
writing Holocaust literature as a survivor versus as someone who was
- How does writing about the Holocaust help
survivors to come to terms with their experiences?
- In what ways is the knowledge of the Holocaust
that we obtain through reading literature different from what we obtain
by reading academic texts?
- Summarize the four main theoretical models of
memory that Miztal discusses.
- What are some methods for sustaining collective
memory beyond the life spans of those individuals whose experiences we
are trying to remember?
- What are some of the limitations to using
memorials as the keepers of our collective memory?
- In what ways does the design
and construction of memorials influence our collective memories?
- Discuss some different
strategies that designers and regular people have used in creating
- How has the commercialization
of memorial tourism potentially affected the construction and
experience of memorials?
- What do you think are the strategic political
and/or ideological goals sought by Holocaust deniers when they engage
in denial activities?
- What were the goals of the Canadian prosecution
in mounting a legal case against Zundel?
- How do Holocaust deniers’ claims about the lack
of knowledge of the Holocaust between 1939 and 1945 connect to broader
discussions of the dissemination of news about the Holocaust?
- What does “justice” mean as a legal concept?
- How can law be used as a type of response to
- Do you think that the State of Israel can be
seen as a response to the Holocaust? If so, in what way?
- What do you think were the one or two most
important points that Todorov makes in Facing the Extreme?
- What is Todorov’s argument with regards to the
“relationship between gender and moral values?” What do you think of
- What is Todorov’s definition of morality?