The unforgiving

Reflections on the resistance toforgiveness after atrocity

Thomas Brudholm and Valérie Rosoux

Enraged by calls upon the Nazi victims to forgive, Vladimir Jankélévitch once asserted that forgiveness ‘died’ in the Nazi extermination camps (Jankélévitch 1996: 552). If the murderers wished for forgiveness they should go and ask the children who were burned alive. If the survivor had a moral task to consider, it was the unending preservation of a resentful and unreconciled memory of those who were murdered (Jankélévitch 1996: 565–572). At about the same time, in the 1960s, Hannah Arendt took notice of widespread German sentiments about the possibility of immediate reconciliation. According to Arendt, the sentiments revealed the degree ...

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