ethical positioning that brings into question all forms of violence, most especially the legitimate violence constituted through the force of law. Denying the constituted embodiment of life, lawful violence is dehumanising. This in turn gives rise to claims about the universal rights of humans in international law and its associative laws of war.
Violence is the Result of Underdevelopment
Domesticated in the shadow of juridical power by the threat of incarceration, critics of the previous position might also point to our shared material gains and sense of
time when Hitler used
US race laws as a model for the Third Reich ( Whitman,
2017 ), or to slavery and genocide against Native Americans, or forward again to the use
of mass incarceration by liberals in the US more recently ( Murakawa, 2014 ). We can add torture by the British government in Aden and Northern
Ireland and more recently, as we well know, US torture in the ‘war on terror’.
These are just the examples that come to mind. There are many more.
Yet, having said all of that, it remains a core liberal belief that, broadly speaking
collectivisation or individualisation of guilt.
Field observation, central Rwanda, 31 July 2007.
I provide such descriptions to clarify the nature of the interventions during trials. ‘Survivor’ refers to genocide survivors; ‘prisoners’ are individuals who were incarcerated at the time of the trial proceedings; ‘released prisoners’ had been in prison for alleged participation in the genocide but had been released before trial; those ‘accused in gacaca ’ are individuals accused of genocide crimes who had not been imprisoned at the time of the proceeding; and
This article has two aims: to examine the effects of victim proximity to crematoria ashes and ash pits both consciously and unconsciously in a subset of Holocaust survivors, those who were incarcerated at the dedicated death camps of Belzec, Sobibor, Treblinka, as well as Auschwitz-Birkenau; and to contrast these effects, the subject positions they produce, with their suppression as the basis both for a strategy of survival during incarceration and for a reimagined identity after the war. Within a cohort of four survivors from Rudolf Reder (Belzec), Esther Raab (Sobibor), Jacob Wiernik (Treblinka) and Shlomo Venezia (Auschwitz), I trace the ways in which discrete memories and senses became constitutive in the formation of the subject prior to and after escape – the experience of liberation – so that essentially two kinds of subjects became visible, the subject in liberation and the subject of ashes. In conjunction with these two kinds of subjects, I introduce the compensatory notion of a third path suggested both by H. G. Adler and Anna Orenstein, also Holocaust survivors, that holds both positions together in one space, the space of literature, preventing the two positions from being stranded in dialectical opposition to each other.