Via Auschwitz

Those of us, at least, born after 1945 in an industrialized nation should reflect on Auschwitz as a conditio sine qua non of our existence: Auschwitz, we must realize, could only possibly not have come to be if the constellation of historical and social forces had been entirely different; but in such an entirely different constellation of historical and social forces we ourselves would not have come to be either, since our parents would either never have met or would have conceived a child at quite some other point in time, with quite another recombination of genes, from which not we ourselves but someone quite different from us would have resulted. In this sense it is indeed the case that all those of us born after 1945, at least, have entered existence “via Auschwitz”. Given this background, it should be easy for any one of us to perform a symbolic >Renunciation of Existence. But “via Auschwitz” also lays claim to our attention and reflection in quite another way:  Just as we speak of a Via Dolorosa so too can we speak of a Via Auschwitz – which shines a strong, harsh light on the fact that the path which we have taken in history has been a wrong path.

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