Academic journal article Shofar

Ethics in the Shadow of the Holocaust

Academic journal article Shofar

Ethics in the Shadow of the Holocaust

Article excerpt

edited by Judith H. Banki and John T. Pawlikowski. Chicago: Sheed and Ward, 2001. 364 pp. $24.95.

Ethics in the Shadow of the Holocaust is really two books as records of two conferences held at the Bernardin Center in Chicago with the aim of developing more fully the relationship between the Catholic Church and the Jewish community. The editors have successfully gathered a group of top-flight scholars for both conferences and have constructed the volume in such a way so as to show as much as can be done in such volumes the actual interchange between Jews and Christians at these meetings. The first of the conferences is directed mostly at a joint reflection on the recent Vatican document "We Remember," an attempt to produce a Catholic response to the Holocaust. Of course, any Vatican document leads to a wider exploration of the issues that still create tensions between both communities such as the role of Pius XII and what each side wishes could be said about the papal response and responsibility during the Holocaust. It is this latter issue that turns a joint reflection into a discussion of ethics. The second portion of the volume turns our attention toward other leading figures in the Holocaust, namely the doctors and the businesses that were complicit in the final solution, set into the broad context of contemporary, post-Shoah ethics as described by Michael Berenbaum and John Pawlikowski.

The essays in this volume are superb scholarship in that they successfully present in a clear way the key details, the facts of the case if you will, of these matters and show how and why these details should play a role in our sense of contemporary ethics and basic human responsibility (whether that be of individuals or of communities and organizations). Indeed, the essays are quite thorough in this respect and lead us to some new ground on basic historical research such as with the excellent work by Michael Marrus and John Morley on the various ways of reading the actions of Pope Pius XII and the thorough detailing of the role of corporations and the corporate atmosphere of Nazi Germany in the essay by Peter Hayes. All of the scholars offer nice and thorough scholarly work that makes the issues clear and complement each other in seeing the contours of interaction between Jews and Christians on these topics. …

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