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2kNreeJ

2kNreeJ

HISTORY Robert Jan van

HISTORY Robert Jan van Pelt Untrumpable: Auschwitz, the other camps, and the memory of the Holocaust Robert Jan van Pelt, D.Litt. Untrumpable: Auschwitz, the other camps, and the Memory of the Holocaust

Twenty years ago the Polish-born sociologist Zygmunt Bauman observed that future generations might talk about the historical sequence of the seventeenth to the twentieth centuries as the ages of Reason, Enlightenment, Revolutions, and the Age of the Camps. While the twentieth century appeared first as an epoch of “modernity” in which humankind produced more, travelled faster, and became richer, the more significant achievement of “modernity” was a totalitarianism that embraced a thoroughly “modern” solution to the presence of undesirable ethnic or social groups—“fast and efficient killing, scientifically designed and administered genocide.” Therefore Bauman predicted that the shadows cast by “Auschwitz” and “the Gulag” would dominate future generations’ understanding of the twentieth century because they had been so unexpected and hence bewildering to a civilization which had learned to see the past in terms of “the relentless and exhilarating progression of the ages of reason, enlightenment, and emancipatory, liberating revolutions.” 2 67 HOLOCAUST EDUCATION IN PEDAGOGY, HISTORY, AND PRACTICE

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