In college I studied political theory. In class after class, I noticed that instructors and students alike regularly used the Holocaust as a way to test ideas. Any successful principle of political morality must show that the Nazis were wrong; any successful theory of political institutions must be structured to prevent Nazis from rising to power again. These were the implicit rules of the discipline. I preferred to argue in other ways. The Holocaust was personal, and too big to be put to use. Surely I could ground my ideas in something else, some problem or event other than the Holocaust. But that was a conscious preference, not an instinct. My instinct was to go to the Holocaust first. My conscious self intervened, moving the grounds of my articulated ideas elsewhere. And so it went: my mind goes first to the Holocaust, and then I remember that this is not the world but just my corner of it, and that sends me out into the world.
Publication Information & Recommended Citation
Primus, Richard A. "The Paradigm of the Holocaust Will Not Last Forever." In God, Faith, and Identity from the Ashes: Reflections of Children and Grandchildren of Holocaust Survivors, edited by M. Z. Rosensaft, 132-4. Woodstock, VT: Jewish Lights Publishing, 2014.