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International Journal of Applied Philosophy

Volume 16, Issue 1, Spring 2002

Alan S. Rosenbaum
Pages 33-40

Some Philosophical and Legal Reflections on Remembering the Holocaust

In my paper I propose to explore a defensible philosophical basis for affirming the significant uniqueness of the Holocaust in relation to other similar instances of genocide and, accordingly, to contribute to efforts to better secure its place in history for future generations, especially in terms of its impact on aspects of institutionalized remembrance in law and morality. The twentieth century has been a century of democide (a state’s killing of its own people) and genocide (a state’s murder of its own minorities in the general population): it ought to be or to promote a century of indelible remembrance. Perhaps the twenty-first century will be one not only of further institutionalized forms of remembrance to dissuade future genocidists, but also of the actualization of more effective internal mechanisms for preventing genocidal policies and practices. Short of prevention, however, mechanisms ought to be in place for either intervening in or stopping genocidal atrocities once they begin, and of apprehending, prosecuting, and punishing the perpetrators. Certainly the conceptual framework exists in international law and in popular moral discourse for identifying genocidal possibilities or attempts at genocide. Only a persistent global will needs to be present to make these mechanisms a reality.