Globalization and the Image
Kent State University
"Translation and Transference in the Holocaust Blockbuster, Globally and Locally"
Do not cite without permission of the author.
In addressing globalization as both force and discourse, I will examine some of the ways in which the Holocaust-here, the state-sanctioned genocide of European Jewry by the Nazis and their collaborators between ca. 1940 and 1945--has been represented and mediated in two blockbuster texts, Steven Spielberg's Schindler's List (Universal Pictures/Amblin Entertainment, 1993) and Daniel J. Goldhagen's Hitler's Willing Executioners (Knopf Books, 1996). Spielberg's and Goldhagen's respective narratives are arguably the two most discussed examples of Holocaust discourse in recent years. And both have been figured as "Americanizations of the Holocaust," even though they stand at the nexus of a complex perhaps better described as "the Globalization of the Holocaust."
This essay begins by juxtaposing Spielberg's Schindler's List and Goldhagen's Hitler's Willing Executioners, arguably the two most discussed examples of Holocaust discourse in recent years.1 The putative "inability of language or of any other medium to engage it adequately," writes scholar Michael André Bernstein, seems "precisely what constitutes much of the conversation about the Holocaust" (1996: 8). In the midst of such paradox, nonetheless, a diversity of representations of the Holocaust has emerged in the last decades. These Holocaust representations are themselves mediated through an astounding variety of cultural forms and aesthetic practices. Thus, the present study does not a priori reject representation (or mediation) but instead explores the contexts, intertexts, and transferential relations that inform it.2
In particular, the identification of transference-defined here as the projection of various psychological agendas onto other texts or lives-may well epitomize historical and hermeneutical analysis. At the same time, representations of the Holocaust are at least as productively examined as cultural artifacts influenced by social, psychological, and political dynamics.3 To insist on judging which works treat the Holocaust with "aesthetic connoisseurship" or "moral propriety" is tantamount to avoiding the issue. Precisely such a problematic approach presupposes that the Holocaust is impossible to represent. The anti-representability thesis is in turn linked to the political- and/or psychologically-motivated argument of the "Uniqueness Claim," according to which the Shoah was so exceptional that it ruptures or is ultimately outside history. In such cases, only one type of aesthetic or ethic is thought to be sufficiently "responsible" as to avoid disfiguring or exploiting the memory of the murdered.
In fact, numerous critics qualify the majority of fiction, dramatization, and figurative speech about the Holocaust as misrepresentation. For them, the singularity of the Shoah is viewed as being in danger of violation whenever it is not read literally. In a very specific sense, the debates between Holocaust particularists and universalists are better framed in terms of literalism versus exemplarism. Whereas the exemplarist attempts "to make connections, establish comparisons, or derive meaning from the Holocaust" (LaCapra 2000: 102), the literalist finds such attempts speculative, if not sacrilege. The Holocaust literalist "insists steadfastly on the particular events of unbearable horror" (LaCapra 2000: 102); the Holocaust exemplarist is deemed prone to forgetting, if not forgiving. Goldhagen and Spielberg are (as we shall see) primarily literalists, as are Claude Lanzmann and Lawrence Langer. Those routinely "cited" for exemplarism range from Hannah Arendt and Stanley Milgram to Hans Mommsen and Christopher Browning, all the way to Roberto Benigni.4
Yet even for those whose work tends to affirm a diversity of Holocaust representations, irresponsible commemorations appears always to be lurking around the corner. James Young, for instance, writes:
In this age of mass memory production and consumption . . . there seems to be an inverse proportion between the memorialization of the past and its contemplation and study. For once we assign monumental form to memory, we have to some degree divested ourselves of the obligation to remember. In shouldering the memory-work, monuments may relieve viewers of their memory burden. . . . To the extent that we encourage monuments to do our memory-work for us, we become that much more forgetful. . . . In effect, the initial impulse to memorialize events like the Holocaust may actually spring from an opposite and equal desire to forget them (1994: 8-9).
Although this argument may possess an internal logic, it is not without flaws. In fact, much of the discourse on Holocaust monumentalization belies an unfamiliarity with newer media and their possibilities for contesting traditional commemorations (cf. Wiedmer 1999). In contrast to blocks of granite, steel, or concrete-products of a particular chronotope-the architecture of "virtual" sites of memory has been constructed differently. A book commemoration, when made available for repeated readings, becomes a part of everyday life at "home." No memorial practice in some distant locale, video playback (almost) always takes place in a domestic setting. Reproducible mediations of the Holocaust in video (and now in digital) formats can be stopped and studied at one's convenience on the family television or computer monitor. This (post-Brechtian) capability suggests that establishing distance may be required to preserve a collective memory. Work being done today on Holocaust representation and commemoration will have to account for the "future-shock" proliferation in the use of video, CD-ROM (e.g., Art Spiegelman's Maus), the Internet, and other new media.5
For such a vision of memory work, Schindler's List with its self-referentiality and citation of previous (inter)texts, seems as well suited as other attempts. Film theorist Marion Hansen argues "that Schindler's List is a more sophisticated, elliptical, and self-conscious film that than its critics [for example, Lanzmann] acknowledge (and the self-consciousness is not limited to the epilogue in which we see the actors together with the survivors they play file past Schindler's Jerusalem grave)" (1997: 85). But an approach that encourages us to consider the complexities inherent in the positionality and mediality of creators, disseminators, critics, and audiences of texts has been absent from many reception studies. While the recent volume The World Reacts to the Holocaust promises to cover "the impact of the Holocaust on twenty-two countries" (Wyman 1997), it fails to engage in substantive comparisons of individual representations and discourses. Despite specific contributions on the reception of Schindler's List in Germany, France, and Israel, issues of synchronization, translation, and transference are virtually absent from Spielberg's Holocaust (Loshitzky 1997), itself perhaps too close in time to the film's release.
One hardly needs to be reminded of the hype accompanying the United States premiere of Schindler's List in December 1993. Seven years later, the initial "Schindler-mania" has waned, but Spielberg's film continues to attract viewers wherever cinematic representations of the Holocaust have played an important role in shaping public and private memory of that series of events. The situation in German-speaking Europe, to take but one non-American instance, is no different. Just two months after opening in the Federal Republic of Germany, Schindlers Liste had been seen by approximately four million viewers (in a population of over eighty million); a few years later it was still one of most-watched videos there.
By briefly comparing the English-language and the German-dubbed versions of the film (see the detailed interpretations that follow), I want to suggest that various differences in text-we do not have audience surveys-may have influenced the reception of the film by German-speaking viewers. Schindlers Liste, in a very specific sense, had to be better in order to compensate for German speakers' deficit in American sensibility (or "mentality").6 For people better versed in American life and discourse will arguably be the more "informed readers" of Schindler's List-Jewish Americans with a background similar to Spielberg's most of all. Yet while American-trained viewers are (initially) more likely to understand certain intertextual resonances of the original, this cultural basis for comprehension may deprive them. Bernstein writes that Spielberg's film satisfies "a characteristic American urge to find a redemptive meaning in every event" (1994: 429). Others, especially literalists/particularists, warn of an Americanization of the Holocaust, in particular with respect to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. And in at least one instance, Spielberg felt compelled to authorize a change in the actual text of Schindler's List for a non-American audience. At the film's end, as the newly liberated "Schindlerjuden" walk to freedom, the soundtrack for most cinemagoers is the song "Yerushalayim shel zahav" ("Jerusalem the Golden"). In Israel, however, audiences heard the song "Eli Eli," based on a poem by Hannah Senesh. Spielberg, in fact, authorized the change after being informed that the final scene was making Israeli audiences laugh. For "Yerushalayim shel zahav," sung by Naomi Shemer and written to celebrate the reunification of Jerusalem after the Six-Day War (1967), now resonates for many Israelis as a kitsch song; for some, it even suggests militarism and the transformation of traditional victims into conquerors.
German viewers, like Israelis, may lack the intertextual background to discern (initially) the ideological inflections of Spielberg's American Schindler narrative. By one estimate, seventy percent of the German audience in the first months consisted of schoolchildren (a greater percentage than in any other nation). One popular magazine interviewed Ignatz Bubis, the head of the Jewish community in Germany, for advice on how parents and children should behave while watching the film (Schneider 1997: 233). It is valuable to compare the treatment of Schindler's List in a 1994 episode of the TV situation comedy Seinfeld, where the main character is criticized for having "made out" with his girlfriend during a screening of the film. What is at one and the same time a politically-incorrect sendup both of Schindler's List and (arguably) of American Jewish assimilationism would not necessarily have been understood as such by the almost completely non-Jewish audiences in Germany.
Of course, American schoolchildren of divergent social and cultural backgrounds will also be (initially) less informed viewers of Schindler's List. The example is well known of the high school in Oakland whose students were predominantly disadvantaged African- and Latino-Americans. A group of them on a field trip in honor of Martin Luther King Day 1994 allegedly laughed at the scene where the Jewish female engineer (Diana Reiter) is brutally murdered on Goeth's orders. As a result of the ensuing controversy, Spielberg himself was enlisted to speak at a special school assembly. While admitting that the students in question may have received "a bum rap," he did not seem to question the co-attendance of California governor Pete Wilson, who clearly sought to coopt the media event in what was an election year (Snitow and Kaufman 1997).
Whereas the Oakland high school students may have partially grasped the implicit allusions to Hollywood in Schindler's List, those allusions, for better or worse, may be lost on German, Israeli, and other audiences. Although somewhat aware of discourse on Hollywood (indeed at times more overtly critical), readings abroad are not as thoroughly pre-informed by the "Entertainment Tonight" culture of the U.S., where the movie moguls have become as newsworthy as their films, where box office receipts can be recited by the average citizen, and where the model for Schindler himself was Spielberg's best friend, the former head of Time-Warner, Steve Ross, to whom Schindler's List is dedicated. And German readings will unlikely censure "Hollywood's" previous failures to depict the Holocaust (an American Jewish discourse) or Spielberg's supposed selfishness and inability to grow up (an Israeli Jewish discourse).7
How might we begin to theorize the divergences in mediation within the United States and overseas? To be sure, the heterogeneity of addressees in Schindler's List (the range of accents represented is alone astounding) was on some level designed to appeal to diverse markets, both domestically and abroad. Precisely on account of their polyvalence, many mass-mediated (or "blockbuster") texts enable a certain hegemony of reception (Lewis 1991). Schindler's List succeeds, for Hansen, in "engender[ing] a public space, a horizon of at once sensory experience and discursive contestation" (Hansen 1997:99). What she concludes about classical Hollywood cinema may apply equally to current American blockbuster films:
If classical Hollywood cinema succeeded as an international modernist idiom on a mass basis, it did so not because of its presumably universal narrative form but because it meant different things to different people and publics, both at home and abroad. We must not forget that these films, along with other mass-cultural exports, were consumed in locally quite specific, and unequally developed, contexts and conditions of reception . . . Many films were literally changed, both for particular export markets (e.g., the conversion of American happy endings into tragic endings for Russian release) and by censorship, marketing, and programming practices in the countries in which they were distributed, not to mention practices of dubbing and subtitling. . . . To write the international history of classical American cinema, therefore, is a matter of tracing not just its mechanisms of standardization and hegemony but also the diversity of ways in which this cinema was translated and reconfigured in both local and translocal contexts of reception (1999: 68-69).
A cautionary example of the reconfiguration of the American text of Schindler's List is Schindler's second encounter with Jews in Cracow, set in the Church of St. Mary. The point of the English-language scene is to explain (and possibly even pardon) that Jews were compelled to deal on the black market in order to survive in Nazi-occupied Poland. The potential for stereotyping Jews is great in this episode: a church almost becomes a stock exchange. Yet Spielberg sets out to undermine the Nazi pseudoscience of race in this scene. Before removing his Judenstern armband, entering the cathedral, and dousing himself with holy water, Poldek Pfefferberg-the "tough" Jewish figure of the film-looks into a window display. No run-of-the-mill window-windows repeatedly enact historical distance in Schindler's List-Pfefferberg's reflection merges with a physiognomic tableau of four faces, each one by the standards of racialist theory "more Jewish." (This scene, significantly, is not present in Zallian's screenplay.)
Pfefferberg's own face (as portrayed by Jonathan Sagalle, a Canadian-raised, Israel-based actor) is rendered "less Jewish," especially when juxtaposed with the faces of his colleagues cutting deals in the church. These two characters are played Israeli-raised actors Shmulik Levy and Mark Ivanir. Their "Jewish" faces, if not voices, were specially imported to location after shooting had begun and are conceivably meant to contrast with the "German" faces and voices of German (and Austrian) actors portraying Nazis (actors who, when uniformed, supposedly made Spielberg uneasy). While Levy's and Ivanir's English is detectably Israeli-accented in the American rendition, a change ensues in the German version, where Pfefferberg, whose Jewish identity is otherwise effaced, is marked unmistakably as yet another Yiddish speaker. In fact, what we get in the translation (or Verdeutschung) is a Germanized or artificial Yiddish. (One might call this "yideutsch," as opposed to "yinglish," or Americanized Yiddish.) On the one hand, the Yiddishizing of the original is an improvement. As more than one critic noted, Israeli English is truly an anachronism in this case. On the other hand, it almost sounds as if the dubbing actors had studied-indeed, einstudiert -the Germanized Yiddish found in the well-known humor books of Salcia Landmann (the sine qua non of Yiddish culture in the post-Shoah German cultural sphere). Elsewhere in the German version, Yiddish is again used to underline the Jewishness of Jewish characters. One of the final lines of Schindlers Liste, in the memorable teeth-extracting scene, is an unabashed "a sheynem dank" ("thanks very much"). There is no Yiddish in the corresponding English-language episode.
Thus, the German version may fail to reflect the historical diversity within Jewish communities insofar as it homogenizes Jewish speech with the same "Yi-deutsch" accent, in lieu of attempting to coach the actors in Cracow-dialect Yiddish. One could, indeed, pose the same question of German speech in the American production: Is it "real" or is it "fake" German? One cannot fail to be bewitched or bewildered by the diversity of speaking voices in Schindler's List, and all this enthusiasm for accents points to what may be termed a deliberate cinematic "multiculturalism." In synchronic terms, after all, both the United States and the Federal Republic of Germany are multiethnic societies. (One is reminded of the Bosnian conflict, a stated impetus for Spielberg's hurry to make Schindler's List in 1993; part of the film was shot in Croatia).
Yet multiculturalism is also enhanced and positively reconfigured in the German text of Schindler's List. Compared to the original, Schindlers Liste underplays one particular theme that is more often an American concern than anything else, to wit: "family values." In spite of-or because of-the film's "R" rating for nudity and violence, the American production is organized around "the wish for a restored familialism-for a stability, a happiness, a normality of family life which the Nazis have taken away" (Eley and Grossman 1997: 56).8 As a result, the primary villain of Schindler's List, Amon Goeth, comes off as sexually heteronomic (or in lay terms, "bisexual") from his first scenes in the film. Or, drawing on an American insult, he is a "Euro-fag."9 What this suggests is that the rhetoric of family values and its attendant homophobia contrive to further demonize the already demonic personality of Goeth, an SS officer whose actual biography was demonstrably demonic (Segev 1987: 151-53).10
For German and other European (and some Israeli) viewers, Goeth will not resonate as effeminate. While the gestures are intended as such, they may not be immediately decoded by non-American audiences. Handkerchief-to-nose, being driven through the Cracow ghetto in an open chauffeured convertible, Goeth's first words in the film are, "Can you put the fucking top down? I'm freezing!" His uncertainly pitched British voice is replaced in the German translation by a definitively Viennese baritone "Warum ist denn das Verdeck auf? Ich frier' mir den Hintern ab!" [Why's the top open? I'm freezing my butt off!]. The vacillating Hamletesque intonation and movements of Ralph Fiennes' Goeth are stressed in the following scene where he fatefully chooses Helen Hirsch as his maid.
Schindler's List, in English, has a unique verbal and visual semiotics of masculinity. When juxtaposed with Schindler in a series of short contrasting shots, Goeth cannot shave like a man, cannot kiss like a man, cannot talk without occasionally lisping, cannot help being fussy, and cannot help being jealous of Schindler's success with women (Jewish and non-Jewish). Geoffrey Hartman refers to the "tense mutual jockeying of Goeth and Schindler" as a "homoerotic psychodrama" (1996:88).11
Nazi men, then, are not real men in this constructed world of (the American) Schindler's List. Whereas Goeth objectifies, shoots at, and beats women, non-Nazi men kiss, marry, and build families with women. The implication, whether consciously intended by Spielberg or not, is that Jews, indeed the "Jewish family," are morally superior in dealing with sexuality and aggression. Consider as well the final scene of Schindler's List, which, like others cited above, is absent from Zallian's screenplay. The Dresner nuclear family-marked most prominently by the daughter who (like Itzhak Stern) wears Spielberg's signature round-frame glasses-is the first to lay the stones at the grave of Schindler in Jerusalem.
That episode is no longer a lesson from the past: it is rendered as a moral in living color for our day.12 Subtitles inform us that the progeny of the "Schindler Jews" outnumber the Jews living today in post-Shoah Poland. (Left unmentioned is that fact that only 300 of the some 1,100 names on Schindler's actual list were women and that Amon Goeth was tried and sentences to death by postwar Poles.) Masterfully intercut with Goeth's beating of Helen Hirsch and a nightclub scene where a female singer flirts with Schindler, the clandestine Plaszów wedding of a young Jewish couple-one of the film's dramatic climaxes-asserts the "indestructibility of the family form. . . . stand[ing] for love and propriety, in counterpoint with Goeth's pathologies and Schindler's promiscuity" (Eley and Grossman 1997: 58)13 A similar highpoint is the voiceover of Billy Holliday's "God Blessed the Child," where the otherwise opaque protagonist-under the spell of the murdered "red girl" (the "Red Genia" of Keneally's novel)-formulates his rescue plan. One might even venture that Spielberg's production team, on site in "hostile" Poland, successfully bonded into a filmmaking family. Part of the folklore-and the marketing-of the film was the idea of an ensemble, German, Polish, and Israeli, that came together to celebrate Passover under Spielberg's supervision.
Just as (Jewish) family values proved victorious at Spielberg's seder on location, so too did they prevail in the shot of Schindler among the crosses (on Mount Zion) which closes the film. Schindler's "Last Supper," as it were, is a spirited defense of the American film industry. "Hollywood," more than ever, seems to need Schindler the deliverer, Schindler the liberal capitalist, the great white father, the benevolent potentate who looks after his Jews. Compare Branko Lustig, one of Schindler's List's coproducers, on the casting of Polish-based extras: "We were like Schindler in many ways, feeding people, paying them money they wouldn't ordinarily make, giving them something worthwhile to do . . . We had to organize to know who our people were, just like he did" (Galbraith 1993: F1).14
Spielberg, particularly in the heated debates regarding the influence of the media as Schindler's List was being made in 1993, assigned himself the task of defending "Hollywood"-to his mind, a code-word for "American Jewish media" (Blair 1993)-against attacks in the name of "family values" by opportunistic right-wing politicians. In the American mini-kulturkampf of 1991-1994 centering on the phrase "family values," Spielberg (along with Barbra Streisand, David Geffen and Sherry Lansing) emerged as one of the top benefactors of Democratic-party politicians, who garnered 86 percent of campaign contributions (compared to a mere 14 percent for Republicans) from the entertainment industry in those years ("Böse" 1995: 45). Finally, it may be no coincidence that the site of Schindler's factory in Schindler's List resembles a Los Angeles studio lot, that its employees are referred to (in the English version) as "journeymen," and that its production head buys off adversaries with framed photos and other gratuities. One might even go so far as to argue that when Schindler kisses a Jewish woman, the anti-Hollywood, pro-GATT advocates of "family values" become the stand-ins for the Nazi guardians of Aryanism who stop production at the Deutsche Emailwarenfabrik.15 Even Goeth defends Schindler at this point in the film.
Yet such instances of "globalizing" American discourse, here and in other contemporary Holocaust narratives, are far too easily overlooked amidst the anti-universalism and Holocaust literalism of Schindler's List and Hitler's Willing Executioners. Spielberg's and Goldhagen's perceived rebuttals to the alleged "Americanization of the Holocaust" (rendered as tantamount in its evil to a Nazi bisexual) return us full circle to the contextualization above of Schindler's List as "Jewish-American." Anson Rabinbach can thus maintain that
against the background of the institutionalization of an "authoritative" narrative in America, Goldhagen's version of the story has a transgressive dimension that restores many of the motifs that prevailed when Jewish memory did not yet have to contend with its public presence or its universalist instrumentalization. The impact of Goldhagen's book therefore should be first and foremost considered an event in the public sphere, and as such serves as a counterdiscourse to the "Americanization of the Holocaust" (Rabinbach 1997: 251).
Such an argument concerns Schindler's List as well. For the perceived need to resist Holocaust revisionism and denial on all fronts had evolved prior to the publication of Deborah Lipstadt's Denying the Holocaust in 1993. In that year, argues Jeffrey Shandler, the Holocaust truly became a "household word" in U.S. public discourse. What Shandler chronicles as "the emergence of the Holocaust as a moral paradigm in American culture" is reasoned to pertain only to "a nation that has almost no direct experience of these events" (Shandler 1999: xvii; 2); yet this would seem to apply equally to nations impinged on by American popular culture. For the hegemony of American-produced movies globally assures them--now as in classic era of Hollywood cinema--an impact within a wide range of different local contexts: "[B]y forging a mass market out of an ethnically and culturally heterogeneous society . . . American classical cinema had developed an idiom, or idioms, that traveled more easily than its national-popular rivals" (Hansen 1999: 68).
The American publishing industry, at least since the onset of the blockbuster era (see Whiteside 1981), has been no less successful. Hitler's Willing Executioners, which may have already sold more copies in the United States than any other previously published Holocaust study, has been at least as successful in Federal Republic where its message has allowed younger generations of Germans-if they so desire-to distance themselves from crimes committed by their grandparents or omitted by their parents, thus relieving inherited guilt feelings and other perceived "burdens of the past." (See in particular Goldhagen's forward to the German edition translated in the Vintage U.S. paperback of February 1977.) The narrative, it might be argued, had already allowed all generations of Americans (not to mention French, Israelis, and others where the book was a best seller) to distance themselves from "Germans." Even though the book itself is a response to the German Historikerstreit [historians' dispute] of the late 1980s, in reproaching functionalist colleagues for "mastering the past" (Vergangenheitsbewältigung), its author (in public statements) has repeatedly claimed that the Germans of the post-1945 period are better people, not at all like their ancestors.16 In one interview, he argues that (West) Germans since the war have been transformed (by American reeducation efforts) into model democrats and are now "just like us." He does not stop to speculate how this demonstrable truth might affect his thesis, or in any event whether "our" United States may be less than democratic and anti-authoritarian. Nor, finally, does he acknowledge the extent to which German identity and the discourse of that identity are fundamentally constituted by the Holocaust. (The same, as many have argued, can be said of American Jewish identity, as both force and discourse.)17 Commenting on the sociologist Ulrich Beck, who views "Auschwitz" as "German identity," the writer Maxim Biller has recently described the obsession with Holocaust trauma "as the mother of a German national self-consciousness finally discovered." The "holy Holocaust," as he calls it, has finally brought forth the imagined community of a hopelessly divided nation (Biller 1996: n.p.).
Yet the sacrilizing of that nexus of events is cause for concern (and not simply shame or Betroffenheit) among many historians and intellectuals who find Goldhagen's narrative "pornographic" and "voyeuristic" in its description of violence toward Jews. For instance:
The Germans made love in barracks [in the camps] next to enormous privation and incessant cruelty. What did they talk about when their heads rested quietly on their pillows, when they were smoking their cigarettes in those relaxing moments after their physical needs had been met? Did one relate to another accounts of a particularly amusing beating that she or he had administered or observed, of the rush of power that engulfed her when the righteous adrenalin of Jew-beating caused her body to pulsate with energy? (Hitler's Willing Executioners 339).
Goldhagen's stylistics, here and elsewhere, are explicitly moral, employing rhetoric and hyperbole and spurning the sober detachment of functionalist historiography. In appealing to the "common sense" of readers and claiming to explicate the phenomenology of the perpetrators, he may ironically render understanding of the Holocaust more, rather than less, remote. Mitchell Ash maintains that Goldhagen's
graphic portrayals are recognized . . . as ambivalent markers of immediacy and distance at the same time. They are valuable precisely because of their concreteness, but also distancing because they allow readers to imagine the murderers as people quite different from themselves while simultaneously experiencing the thrill-and disgust-resulting from imagined direct contact with violence (1997: 406, my emphasis; cf. section V below).
Ash, while recognizing that "identification and its opposite, moral distancing, are useful means of teaching about the past" also acknowledges that "non-scholars do not identify easily with seemingly anonymous 'structures' and 'forces' of history" (1997: 400).
This oscillation between extremes of identification (for example, repetition-compulsion) and distanciation (for example, denial) is most characteristically at work when Goldhagen attempts to explain himself. For when discussing his theses in letters to the editor and public rebuttals, he appears (on occasion) to know better than others what he meant in Hitler's Willing Executioners. As its most privileged interpreter, he may permit himself to alter what he has said, at times even dissociating himself from the German translation. This translation, like many others, may have been produced all too hastily. Nonetheless, the divergences from the original render a close reading of the German version of Goldhagen's book a desideratum. To note only the most obvious misreprentation, Russell Berman is correct that a shift in title to Hitlers willige Vollstrecker explains how the German reception of the book passed through an initial phase of hostile rejection by intellectuals to a second phase of mass public acclaim:
"[W]illige Vollstrecker," . . . means "willing executor," as if ordinary Germans were carrying out, i.e., "executing" Hitler's will. . . . Of course, "executioner" also has the additional meaning of carrying out an order, but that is surely less obvious than its meaning as hangman, and given Goldhagen's insistence on the eliminationist project, that would have been the proper meaning to convey. "Willige Henker" might have been a more accurate title that would not have softened the message (1997: 140).
I would only add that the subtitle is equally egregious: "ganz gewöhnliche Deutsche" ("plain old Germans") may appeal to a German-speaking audience more strongly than the main title, encouraging the younger cohort to distance itself from the (grand)parents' generation.
Precisely where Hitler's Willing Executioners engages in such essentializing argumentation, it betrays the very standards of scholarly accuracy -not to speak of a psychological "working through" (durcharbeiten, aufarbeiten)-which should be indispensable for the study of antisemitism and the Holocaust. For the Holocaust, like many other human phenomena, is utterly complex. In fact, if we accept (as does contemporary "complexity theory") that every complex system is greater than sum of its parts, then complex theorizing is necessary in order to interrogate complex social and historical circumstances with multiple roots and highly contingent outcomes.18 The historical guild may have grasped this epistemological commonplace better than social scientists:
Even great events can have small causes, just as apparently simple acts can, and often do, have complex origins. Acknowledging historical contingency and complexity is often deeply unsatisfying, but logically necessary. Simple explanations employing large, relentless forces acting directly upon individuals without mediation or variation are the stuff of grand narrative and identity-creating myth, not of precise historical explanation (Ash 1997: 399).19
What Goldhagen offers is a totalizing theory, or in his words, a "compact causal model." It is, at best, a parsimonious formulation; in its wake, the term "common sense" occurs multiple times in the book.20 It also enables Goldhagen, in responding to his scholarly critics, to invoke yet another false dichotomy (and circular argumentation): namely, his best-selling statistics. He thus renders the American and German publics who have bought his book "smarter" than the critics. Witness the following apologia, which touches only upon a portion of Ash's argument above:
Many horrific and complex outcomes have simple causes. The complexity of the specification of the problem and of the manner of its study, on the one hand, and the complexity of the answer or explanation, on the other hand, are logically unrelated. Simple explanations are not to be rejected merely because they are simple or with the dismissal that "we know that things were much more complex." . . . The call for complexity is sometimes the refuge of those who find certain conclusions unpalatable (1996b: n.p.)
To insist that complicity in the Holocaust is complex becomes a matter of taste for Goldhagen: Certain readers not moral or manly enough to "take" his graphic (or "literalist") descriptions. Here Goldhagen's rhetoric appears motivated by a fear of appearing less than "tough" in the eyes of comrades-one of the fears that undoubtedly motivated the men of Reserve Police Battalion 101, not to speak of post-1967 American Jewry with its popular fantasies of the "tough Jewish male," what Paul Breines has referred to as the "Rambowicz syndrome" (Breines 1990).21
The interdisciplinary investigation of human nature and the willingness not to jump to conclusions may be more characteristic of the film Schindler's List than the book Hitler's Willing Executioners. Spielberg's accomplishment is to draw analogies with our capacity to ignore our front pages as well as the all-too-human tendency to become true believers in what we are doing (cf. Browning 1996). In fact, the issue of compliance with authority-to be distinguished from fear of authoritative force-is at the crux of Schindler's personal transformation in the film in his decision to extricate himself from the machinery of murder and the conformist behavior expected of him. This transformation is to be imitated: as discussed above, Schindler's List is shot through with allusions to the corporate world, most specifically to the film industry.
One film by Jon Blair on the making of the Schindler's List film reveals a Spielberg who is utterly self-reflexive about "Hollywood." Here and elsewhere, Spielberg relates his early experiences as a short-statured Jewish director in a universe dominated by (putatively non-Jewish) producers and agents. To be sure, Jewish Americans such as Spielberg are more likely to censure Hollywood's previous "failures" to depict the Holocaust (either during World War II or afterwards). But what is most striking in Blair's film is that Spielberg appears to compare himself with Itzhak Stern, the mousy bookkeeper who by no accident resembles the film director (note again the signature round-frame glasses). It may be debatable whether Stern is a self-projection of Spielberg, yet it is noteworthy that Ben Kingsley--the only well-known actor in a film dominated by newcomers--was cast to play the character. (Kingsley is most noted for his portrayal of antiviolence antihero Mahatma Gandhi in Richard Attenborough's film of 1982.). Furthermore, this character is figured visually (and otherwise) as the "witness for posterity" (itself the public persona of Steven Spielberg subsequent to the release of Schindler's List). According to Hansen, "[t]hroughout the film, Stern is the focus of point-of-view edits and reaction shots, just as he repeatedly motivates camera movements and shot changes" (Hansen 1997: 85-86). He is also the only character who gets to authorize a flashback-significantly, in the scene where Schindler engages for the first time consciously in bartering for Jewish lives.
Stern and the other Jewish figures in Schindler's List are no conventional Greek chorus. They serve, as Geoffrey Hartman remarks, to make us "aware of our silent and detached glance as spectators removed in time and place. Neither the creator of this film nor its viewers can assert, like the chorus in the Oresteia: 'What happened next I saw not, neither speak it'" (1996: 82). Hartman is especially astute in singling out the Spielberg insofar as Stern functions as director's eyes and alter ego.22 The same argument for a differentiated distancing cannot, I think, be made for the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum which, like Schindler's List, opened to the public in 1993.23 In certain respects, criticisms leveled at the museum carried over to those leveled at the film. Even one of the more thoughtful reviews (in the Village Voice) decried Spielberg's film as a "simplistic and emotionally manipulative" product of mainstream American culture (Hoberman 1994: 28).
In this very specific sense, Hitler's Willing Executioners may have been Goldhagen's special answer not only to Christopher Browning's Ordinary Men but also to Schindler's List and Americans' less-than-critical response to it. This is a plausible reason why Goldhagen eschewed Harvard University Press (which was rumored to have been prepared to publish his book if it were reduced by about one-hundred pages) in favor of Knopf with its guaranteed speed and market saturation.24 Though Goldhagen has no statements on record regarding Schindler's List, his analysis might agree with that found in Commentary, the monthly of the American Jewish Committee. This review, one of only negative ones in the United States, complains that Spielberg does not show us what motivates Schindler, why Schindler chooses good (Gourevitch 1994). If Schindler, pace Goldhagen, has "genocidal potential," there are only two possible conclusions: the film Schindler's List is mendacious or mistaken. Taken to its logical extreme, Goldhagen's approach would also interpret Schindler's transformation in Spielberg's film as a lie, or at the very least as a "postmodernist" obfuscation in dire need of the enlightening power of common-sense intuition. Whereas Goldhagen's repeated rhetorical gesture is "Let there be no misunderstanding," Spielberg enacts a language of image and sound that is more attuned to epistemological nuance. Hansen's well-reasoned defense of the film asserts that it attempts to overcome the dichotomies of mass culture within the medium itself (1997: 94). This is accurate, I think, despite justifiable (albeit arguable) criticisms that the ending of Schindler's List is too facilely redemptive.25
Let there be no misunderstanding, then. Goldhagen is correct regarding many details involving perpetrators, bystanders, and victims of the Holocaust. His book, for instance, is somewhat innovative in evoking a distorted, displaced sacrificialism, that is, a "secular sacred or negative sublime . . . active in the motivation of at least certain Nazi perpetrators" (LaCapra 1998: 203). This sacrificialism amidst secularization "involved a horror at contamination or defilement by an impure other and an anxiety-ridden impulse to get rid of the putative source of contamination" (LaCapra 1998: 203). (This tendency is represented in Schindler's List as well, however, in close-ups of Goeth in the scene where Helene Hirsch is selected as the commandant's maid and also in the sequence where Goeth examines his fingernails in the mirror [on this, see Hansen 1997: 93-96].) Still, even those historians without a postmodernist penchant, such as Robert Wistrich, recognize that Goldhagen's book
blurs what was distinctive about the Holocaust. By diverting our attention from the millions done to death by desk-murderers, SS units, and Wehrmacht soldiers, and focusing instead on the relatively small numbers killed by police battalions or guards on death marches, Goldhagen brings to the fore precisely those features-brutality, sadism, killing for sport-that are not particularly unique to the Holocaust but rather part of the endless catalogue of human cruelty through the ages. The fact that the Holocaust represented industrialized killing on a mass scale, ordered by a powerful state in the grip of a mad hatred, somehow gets lost; and yet it is, after all, the key fact (1996: n.p.).
Nor does one have to have read Hayden White to recognize that the literalness embodied by Hitler's Willing Executioners might itself be merely a mode of narrativization (or representation).26 Goldhagen's blockbuster (qua creative treatment of historical actuality) seems yet another "emplotment" of the Holocaust to the extent that it is
a stark and enthralling narrative, much like the morality tales so beloved by children about wicked queens, wolves, and witches. Central to his book, as to these tales, is the sense that trembling and terror are necessary to the perception of a morally comprehensible universe. This is the evil that was done, this is who did it; here is why they did it and how they felt (Joffe 1996: 21).27
Although historical narratives, like comedies, melodramas, horror films, and other genres, have stock characters and situations, they also have formal protocols through which they can sometimes challenge or subvert these conventions. For all his concentrations on ordinary individuals, Goldhagen uncovers a great deal of extraordinary evildoing.28 In his "anti-dedemonization" approach, evil actions are inevitably committed by "evil individuals." Yet to uphold such a perspective, we too often defer to alternative explanations such as physiological disturbance or mental illness. The social psychologist James Waller has recently summarized the latest research on this intuitive "individual-origins model":
Implicit in this . . . model is the notion that ordinary people cannot commit extraordinary evil; it takes extraordinary people to commit extraordinary evil. We cling to such a simplistic view of evildoing because it allows us to hold onto the notion of a just and predictable world. . . . [I]t gives us the courage to go out into the world and to send our children out into the world. . . . A world in which ordinary people would be capable of extraordinary evil is simple too psychologically threatening. Other conceptions of evil, however, strongly and disturbingly challenge this intuitive individual-origins model by suggesting that ordinary people are indeed capable of extraordinary evil. These alternative conceptions of evil, including the rival perspectives of a divided or unitary self, maintain that most extraordinary evildoing in the world is the product of potent social forces generated by situations and organizations (Waller 1996: 2).29
This may explain why it is so crucial for LaCapra and other theorists of "working-through" to acknowledge that
[o]ne must recognize in oneself the kernel of possibility of comparable perpetration. . . . [S]uch attempts at understanding, recognition, and comparison need not imply extending a misplaced, conventional forgiveness to perpetrators but may possibly help enable one to counter even reduced analogues of extreme victimization in one's own life and culture as well as heighten sensitivity to current phenomena that might in certain respects bear comparison with Nazi genocidal practices of ethnic or racial purification and victimization (LaCapra 2000: 104).
In specifically addressing Hitler's Willing Executioners, LaCapra warns against writing one's own victimization: "A related problem is how to recognize one's own transferential implication in events one has not lived through without projectively assuming the role of victim or survivor" (LaCapra 1998: 186-87). For Goldhagen, like the rest of us engaged in the mediation of the memory and representation of the Holocaust, may wish consciously or unconsciously to take part vicariously in the experience of the primary witnesses. LaCapra cites Goldhagen as a major instance of the failure to "work-through" in arguing that "one's transferential relation to the object of research is particularly intense with respect to extremely traumatic series of events, and one may, in some combination, deny, act out, and attempt to work through the attendant problems " (LaCapra 1998: 206).
But how is transference, then, to be "worked-through"--inasmuch as the representation of the Holocaust is so tied up with "German," "Jewish," and "American" (collective) identities? "Working-through," for LaCapra, is opposed to "acting out" or denying those transferential relations
in which one is both situated in a contemporary existential context and tends to repeat, at least discursively, the processes that one studies-a relation that is negotiated in ways that may variably reinforce or place in question one's existing subject-positions. Here one may propose a revised notion of objectivity not in terms of a perspectiveless view from a transcendental position of absolute mastery but in terms of the attempt to counteract inevitable (and at times thought-provoking or heuristically valuable) processes of projection and to work viably through one's implication in the problems one investigates (206).
The negotiation of mastery and projection applies all too well to the Holocaust blockbuster, particularly in its tendency to impinge on local discourses beyond the United States. To this extent, LaCapra's emphasis on subject positionality is applicable internationally, for "despite its jargonistic sound, [it] conjoins social and psychoanalytic concerns and critically mediates between an essentializing idea of identity and an ill-defined, ideologically individualistic, and often aestheticized notion of subjectivity (LaCapra 1998: 206).
Successful working-through thus "requires a combination of the roles of subject-positions of scholar and critical intellectual, a combination that does not dispense with rigorous scholarship or conflate critical reflection with partisan propaganda but does render allowable or even desirable modes of thought that often are discouraged in the academy" (LaCapra 1998: 206). For LaCapra, remembering and reconstructing the past is insufficient; one must also recognize it as the premise of legitimate action in the present and future. The historian's enactment of this essentially ethical responsibility "need not be indentured to Pollyannaish views of a promising moral and spiritual liberation or to the formula equating-and commending-forgetting the past and forgiving the perpetrator" (LaCapra 2000: 105).
LaCapra concludes his History and Memory After Auschwitz as follows:
[S]een in an ethicopolitical sense, concern with transference in research [on the Holocaust] need not induce a show-and-tell session or even a movement toward autobiography . . . But it is also the case that one's implication in a set of problems can exist and be explored by virtue of the fact that one is indissociably a scholar, an ethical agent, and a citizen or political being (1998: 210).
One might add to above list the artist, particularly with respect to Spielberg and the self-referential-if not always adequately "worked-through"-aspects of his Schindler's List.30 Hansen argues that the film attempts in a postmodern manner to unsettle "the compulsive pas-de-deux" of modernism and mass culture diagnosed by Adorno (1997: 94). Hence, "[t]he attack on Schindler's List in the name of [Lanzmann's] Shoah reinscribes the debate on filmic representation with the old debate of modernism versus mass culture, and thus, with binary oppositions of 'high' versus 'low,' 'art' versus 'kitsch,' 'esoteric' versus 'popular'" (1997: 94).
While Hansen and LaCapra rehabilitate the mediated attempts of artists, historians, and other successful "mourners" of the past to transmit near-trauma or unsettling experience, influential critics will continue to be haunted by fears of trivialization, distortion, and a compulsive repetition of the past. Social scientists, such as Goldhagen, may be more "melancholic" (in the Freudian sense) than humanists. Were they to consider "the cinema in aesthetic and sensorial terms rather than as just another medium of information and communication, they would find ample evidence in both American and other cinemas . . . of an at once modernist and vernacular reflexivity" (Hansen 1999: 70). Even the cinematic blockbuster, both in its classical and contemporary manifestations, presents a compelling juncture for reflexively working through past trauma inasmuch as it was and remains "not only part and symptom of modernity's experience and perception of crisis and upheaval; it was [and is] also, most importantly, the single most inclusive cultural horizon in which the traumatic effects of modernity were [and are] reflected, rejected or disavowed, transmuted or negotiated" (Hansen 1999: 69). Hansen sees film as capable of a reflexive relation with modernity and modernization, consonant with Walter Benjamin's and Siegfried Kracauer's writings of the 1920s and 1930s (1999:69).
In Schindler's List, like the earlier technologies of the steam engine and the typewriter (both cited repeatedly in the film), cinema also seems to stand for modernity--not only in its moments of pleasure and jouissance but also in its capacity for compulsive repetition and for acting-out. For effective working-through almost always involves an active acknowledgement and, to some extent, an acting out of trauma. LaCapra links
acting-out not only with possession by the repressed past, repetition-compulsions, and unworked-through transference but also with inconsolable melancholy and the generalization of trauma or its transformation into the sublime. . . . Working-through would require a careful, discriminating, nondismissive critique of this linkage which would nonetheless account for its insistence and limited value (1998: 195).31
"Working through" the Holocaust blockbuster is neither less difficult nor less valuable. It becomes, like all manner of working-through, "a regulative ideal whose actual role in history is a matter of inquiry and argument and whose desirability is affirmed but acknowledged as problematic" (LaCapra 1998: 196). More process than product, it means to relate trauma and its representations as both synchrony and history, as both local and global.
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1This paper is a slightly revised version of material previously published
from: David Brenner, "Working Through the Holocaust Blockbuster:
Schindler's List and Hitler's Willing Executioners, Globally and Locally,"
THE GERMANIC REVIEW 75.4 (Fall 2000): 292-316 (copyright 2000).
2Hansen appears to concur with this approach: "[T]he predominant vehicles of public memory are the media of technical re/production and mass consumption. This issue is especially exacerbated for the remembrance of the Shoah in light of the specific crisis posed by the Nazis' destruction of the very basis and structures of collective remembering [i.e., a more "organic" tradition of oral and collective memory]. . . . In a significant way, even before the passing of the last survivors, the remembrance of the Shoah, to the extent that it was public and collective, has always been more dependent on mass-mediated forms of memory-on what Alison Landsberg calls 'prosthetic memory'" (Hansen 1997: 98).
3For a similar argument, see Shandler 1999. According to Paul Ricoeur (among others), what readers and viewers understand depends not only on a narrator's skill but also on communal standards: "The probable-an objective feature-must also be persuasive or credible -a subjective feature. The logical connection of probability cannot therefore be detached from the cultural constraints of acceptability" (1984: 47).
4Cf. LaCapra on Langer's recent work: "Langer's view [in Preempting the Holocaust] may facilitate a negative sacralization of the Holocaust as the disorientingly sublime, unspeakable, unique tremendum-a series of events beyond secular history and understanding" (2000: 104)
5Consider, for instance, the digital camera and digital imaging, which would appear to depart from the indexicality of previous photography.
6Some recognition of the historic potential of the film in implicit in the fourteen days budgeted for its synchronization, in lieu of a conventional three-to-seven day schedule (Ragheb 1995). At the same time, I contend that the dubbed version-perhaps every dubbed version-resonates differently from the "original." Indeed, one German commentator does not appear to recognize that Goeth's Viennese accent (in German) is not discernible in the English-language original (Wildt 1996: 244). Some Austrian viewers may have viewed this feature negatively, of course.
7The thrust of Hansen's argument confirms my own about the German reception of Schindler's List: "Seeing the film outside the context of American publicity [in Germany], however, made me consider the film's textual work, if not independently of its intentions and public effects, yet still from a slightly displaced location in relation to both Hollywood globality and its intellectual critics (1997: 79)
Let me also add that Spielberg is a cultural hero for some Israelis; for a valuable discussion, see Bresheeth 1997: 207-08. Still, the discourse of Spielberg as cultural hero is more dominant in the United States. Consider too German critics' accusation that the German film industry "failed" to produce its own film based on Keneally's book.
8See also the February 1997 television premiere of Schindler's List in the U.S. (sponsored by the Ford Corporation), especially Spielberg's introductory remarks on the suitability of the film for young viewers. The film was also abridged on this occasion by about one minute, ostensibly to allay censors' concerns.
9A number of individuals who saw Schindler's List have expressed this sentiment to me. See also the direct citation of Goeth's ("Euro-faggy") style of smoking as "European Nazi" in a 1996-97 episode of the TV situation comedy-cartoon, King of the Hill. Consider too the stereotype in the United State that the bisexual is likely to be infected with HIV. There is a sense here in which Spielberg deviates from the political profile of average Jewish Americans, who differ statistically from the average Americans only in one aspect: more liberal attitudes regarding abortion and homosexuality.
10The U.S. version thus provides us with a reassuring distance between murderers and the masses, between Germany then and America now.
11See the exchange on the film as being about "heroism" and "a rite of passage to manhood" (Hoberman 1994: 27) For an alternative view of historical (East European) Jewish masculinity, see Boyarin 1997
12On the film's questionable (Jewish) moral authority, scholar Gertrud Koch wisely observes: "The film itself intentionally raises a very authoritarian voice, giving us an impression that we should now believe that it happened like this. That's the rhetoric of the film" (Hoberman 1994: 125).
13On the centrality of "sex and violence" to the portrayal of Goeth and Schindler--who must be transformed in the direction of the virtuous ascetic Stern--one need only refer to Spielberg's repeated resistance to attempts to censor the film-at "home" and abroad, with the notable exception of the televising of the film referred to above.
14Art Spiegelman (author of Maus) claims that "It's [Schindler's List is] a movie about Clinton. It's about the benign aspects of capitalism-Capitalism With a Human Face" (Hoberman 1994: 30).
15Lanzmann's attacks on Schindler's List might additionally be read as French protectionism vis-à-vis the global cinematic marketplace.
16Extrapolating from the work of Marianne Hirsch, I would designate this phenomenon "reverse postmemory," a tendency among children of Holocaust perpetrators (so-called second-generation "perpetrators") whom Hirsch elides from her analysis; Hirsch 1997.
17 Cf. Novick 1999.
18Cf. Hansen: "[C]ultural configurations . . . are more complex and dynamic than the most accurate account of their function within any single system may convey and require more open-ended, promiscuous, and imaginative types of inquiry" (1999: 67).
19For a similar (though more jargon-laden) statement of the same point, see LaCapra 1998.
20One of Goldhagen's latest appeals to simplicity and a non-Geertzian "common sense" is as follows:
The few who do address these questions often provide laundry lists of factors ("obedience to authority," "peer pressure," "routinization," " rationalization," "siege mentality," "brutalization," "intoxication," and so on), many of which are little more than unilluminating cliches that were postulated before significant research had been done on the perpetrators. These and other concepts have been mechanically slapped onto the perpetrators without their real meaning or applicability to the actual deeds being sufficiently investigated. For decades, these and other such notions ("totalitarianism," "the banality of evil") have substituted for knowledge, have hindered in-depth empirical investigation into the perpetrators' motivations (Goldhagen 1996b: n.p.).
21Jewish neoconservative "Goldhagen fan" and New York Times publisher A. M. Rosenthal argues that to deny the extent of ordinary German support "could only be 'a mask for approval or cowardice'" ("Some Ordinary Germans," New York Times [April 1, 1996]; quoted in Ash 1997: 401). Neither Goldhagen nor Spielberg reflect on the possibility of a (post-Zionist) critique of Jewish masculinity.
22Spielberg's own transferential relations to the film have already been discussed at some length. As the director affirmed upon accepting an American Film Institute lifetime achievement award in April 1995: "It is a story which I've lived myself" (television broadcast).
23Cf. Peter Novick: "The typical 'confrontation' with the Holocaust for visitors to American Holocaust museums . . . does not incline us toward thinking of ourselves as potential victimizers-quite the opposite" (1999: 13).
24 My hypothesis here is strengthened by the media focus on Schindler as a righteous Gentile from Germany, considered a rarity of rarities. According to Spielberg, in fact, Schindler's List set out to proffer a "Rosebud theory," that is, to elucidate "the mystery as to why [the inscrutable] Schindler did what he did" (1993: 9). On the relationship between Citizen Kane and Schindler's List, see Hansen 1997: 97.
25 Even an admitted cynic such as Peter Novick notes that "[e]ven the movie's critics, however, acknowledged that Schindler's List left all of those who saw it-however much or little they'd previously known of the Holocaust--overwhelmed by the horror of the events and deeply moved, often to tears. This was my own experience, and I think it likely that for the majority of viewers, responses of horror and grief overwhelmed whatever redemptive message is carried by the movie" (Novick 1999: 214).
26Cf. White 1992 and responses in Friedlander 1992. In that essay, White seems to agree that there are limits to interpretation and emplotment based on the factual record of historical events.
27 Cf. here Goldhagen; "To present mere clinical descriptions of the killing operations is to misrepresent the phenomenology of killing, to eviscerate the emotional components of the acts, and to skew any understanding of them. The proper description of the events under discussion, the re-creation of the phenomenological reality of the killers, is crucial for any explication" (1996a: 23). What Goldhagen does not explore are the mechanisms by which language and discourse impinge on the "re-creation" of " phenomenological reality."
28What Janice Radway writes about the daunting 1,250 pages of William Shirer's The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich (first edition, 1960) might also apply to the ethos of Hitler's Willing Executioners:
Even if the book was not fully read in every case, it promised those who ordered it, held it in their hands, paged through it, and perhaps made their way through only the first few chapters that a singular, dedicated man, armed with a relentless desire to know and an endless willingness to read papers, documents, letters, and books, could actually comprehend the incomprehensible . . . . Perhaps it was the very intensity of the particular desires these [middlebrow] books cultivated that prevented so many of us from seeing that the value of the knowledge and expertise they celebrated was dependent in the end on a prior act of exclusion whereby the alternative knowledges possessed by others were construed as ignorance or naiveté or even worse, as lack of ambition in the first place (1997: 348, 351).
Like Shirer's, Goldhagen's best-seller (both in the U.S. and Germany, now in France, Israel, and elsewhere) presents a textual world that performs an ideological labor of professional competence and managerial class distinction. This privileged world is not by accident middle-class, white (non-Jewish?), and masculine. At the same time, Radway's analysis may also be relevant for Schindler's List as a videotape (or as other reproducible media).
29For examples of the "divided-self model" which Waller goes on to critique, see Lifton 1986 and numerous representations of Doppelgänger in world literature and cinema.
30LaCapra, while denying that Schindler's List is an instance of "working-through of the past," admits nevertheless that its "mere existence and the fact that it has reached many people may make it the occasion for the type of reflection its own workings do relatively little to promote" (1998: 61). I do not, however, see why the images in Schindler's List cannot in effect achieve the same effect as those in LaCapra's reading of Maus, i.e., "condensed and at times disconcerting mnemonic devices that help to recall events one might prefer to forget" (1998: 179).
31 "With respect to traumatic events, and certainly with respect to the extremely traumatic limit-event, one must, I think, undergo at least muted trauma and allow that trauma (or unsettlement) to affect one's approach to problems. . . . . [T]o generate anxiety in tolerable, nonparanoid doses so that one is in a better position to avoid or counteract deadly repetitions" (LaCapra 1998 40, 41). The disorientation intended by the ca. forty percent use of handheld camera in Schindler's List contributes to this type of working-through.