Page 282 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 39

Basic HTML Version

276
JEWISH BOOK ANNUAL
losses in Jewish lives into their national losses. Since September
1948, when the Soviets began their campaign against Zionism and
cosmopolitanism, scores o f books appeared under the im­
primatur o f various Soviet institutions, including the Soviet
Academy of Sciences, reflecting a vicious though subtly disguised
anti-Semitic campaign. One of the obscene themes o f this cam­
paign is the alleged wartime collaboration between the Nazis and
Zionists.
The origins o f
The Politics of Genocide,
like my interest in
Holocaust studies, can be traced to my wartime experiences. One
of the many drives that sustained me during the long period of
captivity was the desire to bear witness, to tell the world about the
realities of the Nazis’ campaign against the Jews. My focus on the
catastrophe that befell Hungarian Jewry reflects not only my
personal involvement, but also the realization of the uniqueness
of the Holocaust in Hungary. As I stated in my preface to the
book, the Holocaust in Hungary is replete with paradoxes. “The
Jewish community of Hungary, which enjoyed an unparalleled
level of development after its legal emancipation in 1867, was the
first to be subjected to discriminatory legislation in post-World
War I Europe. Conversely, when the Jewish communities of
German-occupied Europe were being systematically destroyed
during the first four and a half years of World War II, the Jewish
community of Hungary, though subjected to harsh legal and
economic measures and to a series of violent actions, continued to
be relatively well off. But when catastrophe struck with the Ger­
man invasion of the country on March 19, 1944, it was this
community that was subjected to the most ruthless and concen­
trated destruction process of the war.” As a trained social scientist
I was resolved to write an empirical study incorporating and
documenting the causal relations between the various historical,
political, socioeconomic, and cultural factors that were clearly
discernible in this tragedy. While I recognized the virtues o f the
lacrymological-martyrological approach, I rejected it as I did the
theological-metaphysical-ontological one for different reasons.
In an anatomical approach to history, I attempted to complete my
study by dissecting the three major collective actors in this histori­
cal drama — the victims, the perpetrators, and the onlookers — in
all their ramifications, identifying and analyzing the causal rela­
tionships among them. I am not sure I succeeded in this task. I