Benedict at Auschwitz

Remembering Auschwitz

Andrew Sullivan recently offered these comments about Pope Benedict’s speech at Auschwitz:

I was unimpressed by his speech. It was a function of resilient denial – denial that the German people had en masse backed Nazism long after its true nature had become known; and denial of the criminal silence and acquiescence of the Vatican hierarchy during that period of time. Money quote about the Germans:

It is a duty before the truth and the just due of all who suffered here, a duty before God, for me to come here as the successor of Pope John Paul II and as a son of the German people — a son of that people over which a ring of criminals rose to power by false promises of future greatness and the recovery of the nation’s honor, prominence and prosperity, but also through terror and intimidation, with the result that our people was used and abused as an instrument of their thirst for destruction and power…

The Germans abused by the Nazis?? They created, empowered and were the Nazis. Then this:

Constantly the question comes up: Where was God in those days? Why was he silent? How could he permit this endless slaughter, this triumph of evil?

How about a simpler and more accountable question: where was the Church hierarchy? Where was the Pope? That is neither rhetorical nor unanswerable. And where is the expiation of the original sin of Christianity – anti-Semitism – that played a part in preparing the way for Nazism? Why was Benedict silent? Even today?

The Daily Dish

May 29, 2006

Memorial Day: Feelings of Remorse

They are finally at rest

The earth may run red with other wars

But they are now at peace

In the midst of battles, in the roar of conflicts

They have found the serenity of death.


In Devoted Memory to:

My Grandfather (World War I)

My Father (World War II, The Berlin Airlift, The Vietnam War)

Why War?

Freud and Einstein: Why War?

The thoughts involved my last the few postings have somehow led my thinking to this question: Why War? This reminded me of the letters between Freud and Einstein investigating the nature of war, wherein they hoped (although not optimistically) that we might be able to find the means to prevent wars. The letters were published as a very limited edition monograph (2,000 copies), entitled Why War? Careful readers of the Freud letters contained within that monograph will especially note that Freud conceptualized his professional identity there as a psychologist, rather than as a psychoanalyst.

I find the conclusion of the correspondences to be extremely striking. Specifically, the conclusion of their investigation into the causes of war was that its root lay in psychosis, and that war is a clear example of collective psychosis:

Because man has within him a lust for hatred and destruction. In normal times this passion exists in a latent state, it emerges only in unusual circumstances; but it is a comparatively easy task to call it into play and raise it to the power of a collective psychosis. Here lies, perhaps, the crux of all the complex factors we are considering, an enigma that only the expert in the lore of human instincts can resolve.

And so we come to our last question. Is it possible to control man’s mental evolution so as to make him proof against the psychosis of hate and destructiveness?

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