Forget-You-NotForget-You-NotHolocaust Survivors and Remembrance Project
preserving the past to protect the future...

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A Critical Assessment
On the Current Mainstream Definitions of the Holocaust

by
K. K. Brattman
Managing Editor
February 3, 2006

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II. History of the Holocaust as Being Taught at
the Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies, University of Minnesota, USA

Searching to see how the history of the Holocaust is being taught at CHGS, if at all, we came across this course that is being taught by Dr. Stephen Feinstein, Director of CHGS, entitled "History of the Holocaust (JWST 3521)." The Syllabus of that course is being outlined on a CHGS' webpage (whose link to is provided herein, and also posted by us in here as Exhibit 2) and, it is the purpose of this section to take a closer look of that posted course's Syllabus.

1. The presentation of the course begins with this preposterous motto that says it all (Exhibit 2,¶2):

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"The Holocaust cannot be thought because it cannot be exhausted by historical narration. It remains elusive, uncontained, a putative mystery because the categories by which such immensities are grasped seem inadequate and trivial." Arthur Cohen, The Tremendum.

a) Let us from the outset make this point clear: the assertion that in an academic environment "The Holocaust cannot be thought," for whatever invoked reason, is not only utterly absurd but extremely dangerous as it parallels those "teachings" of the so-called revisionists denying the existence of the Holocaust altogether. Of course, those people do not present a "revision" of history, they in fact deny its existence.

b) The reason invoked in the motto of Dr. Feinstein's referenced course as to WHY the Holocaust cannot be "thought" in the academia is that "because it cannot be exhausted by historical narration" [sic!]. Excuuuse us, but there is any field of learning out there whose subject has been exhausted in its entirety? Following this bizarre logic, we need to abandon studying Astronomy, Chemistry, Biology, Physics, Arts, Medicine, and any other academic pursuits because arguably will always be new things to be uncovered or discovered and thus those fields of study "cannot be exhausted" by any "narration" or, for that matter, by anything else.

Holocaust crematoria

   

The Holocaust is anything but elusive or a putative mystery ...

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c) The proclamation that the Holocaust "remains elusive, uncontained, a putative mystery" is the coded motto of Holocaust deniers. We respectfully challenge Dr. Feinstein to face a Holocaust survivor with those preposterous words and see for himself the response that he will be getting... Public schools, endowed with public money, like the University of Minnesota need not have in their History curriculum this kind of academic garbage even for a course, like this one, that is being labeled as not being counted "toward fulfilling the historical perspectives requirement of the Department of History." (Exhibit 2,¶1).

 2. Lacking fundamental understanding of what the Nazi Holocaust really was, Dr. Feinstein, in describing his course, made this observation (Exhibit 2,¶4):

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"Not only were Jews affected by Nazi policy, but others labeled "undesirable" or "subhuman" were also exterminated in this process--gypsies, political and religious opponents, homosexuals."

Nazi policy indeed affected all sorts of groups of people but political and religious opponents of Nazi's Germany were never ever part of the Holocaust. This simple but important point that not all of the Nazi's victims were victims of the Holocaust, must always be present when one studies the boundaries of the Nazi policy with respect to the Holocaust. The Nazi killing machine of the Holocaust, as currently is being understood, targeted Nazi's undesirables for what they were (Jews, Romani/Gypsies, homosexuals, and the disabled) regardless of their political or religious views as oppose to other victims of the Nazi regime that were being targeted for what they did (such as hard-core criminals) or what they stand for (such as political or religious opponents). Mixing together, without differentiation, the Holocaust with the non-Holocaust victims is inadmissible in any serious course on the history of the Holocaust.

Dr. Stephen Feinstein

 

Dr. Stephen Feinstein in his Office
3. To make the study of the history of the Holocaust as incomprehensible and confusing as much as possible and in tune with the stated goals of his course that in fact the Holocaust "cannot be thought" and that it is an "elusive, uncontained, a putative mystery," (Exhibit 2,¶5), Dr. Feinstein goes off on a tangent in bringing into the foray postwar issues relating to the former Yugoslavia, to the "famine and politically-linked killing in Africa and Asia," to the Milwaukee serial killer Jeffrey Dalmer, and to Raphael Lemkin's "invention" of the Holocaust word. [By the way, Lemkin coined the word 'genocide' but not 'Holocaust.'] All these "attachments" have nothing, but absolutely nothing, to do with understanding the history the Holocaust --the title of Dr. Feinstein's course. Dr. Feinstein goes on with underlying his utopia that his course will "make a definitive definitional line between genocide and Holocaust" (ibid,¶5). Of course, for that thing to happen, both Dr. Feinstein and his students must need first have a clear understanding of the two concepts that are being compared, genocide and Holocaust.

4. At the end of the cited ¶5, Dr. Feinstein, continuing with the outline of his course, noted:

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"...using the word "Holocaust" for events other than the destruction of the Jews banalizes this and other events."

This statement, on its face, is utterly absurd. Why in God's name, the word "Holocaust" is being banalized when its full meaning is being revealed? Surely, Dr. Feinstein must be aware by now that asides from the Jewish Holocaust (that is referred as the Shoah), we have the Romani/Gypsy Holocaust (that is referred as the Porrajmos), the Gay Holocaust, and the Holocaust of the Handicapped and the Disabled (that is referred as the T4 Holocaust).

5. Dr. Feinstein's lack of fundamental understanding as to who were the victims of the Holocaust can further be seen, in full magnification, when in the 2nd assignment Week 11 (Exhibit 2,¶6), he intertwines the victims of Nazism with the ones of the Holocaust:

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Other victims of Nazism: Gypsies, question of victimization of the Poles, Homosexuals, Communists, Jehovah's Witnesses, Priests.

Clearly all victims of the Holocaust were also victims of the Nazism but the reverse is not true. While the Romani/Gypsies and the Homosexuals were victims of the Holocaust, the (non-Jewish) Poles, Communists, Jehovah's Witnesses, and the (Catholic) Priests were clearly not. That course on "history" [which Dr. Feinstein has taught for at least 10 years in the same identical "frozen" format (see, if you will, this 1996 posting, hereto)] must itself become history as it is a blatant assault on both History and the Holocaust.

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