The Horrors of The Holocaust Essay

The Horrors of The Holocaust Essay

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Tread the murky waters of the internet and it won’t be long before you stumble across a Hitler comparison. Apparently, that one person who wronged you or that political leader whose ideology differs from yours is fair game to be called “literally Hitler,” which tells us two interesting characteristics about our society: one, people do not know how to use the word literally, and two, they view Hitler as the epitome of evil. Why’s that? Obviously Hitler did terrible deeds, with his systematic murder of millions of people being by far the most notable, but let’s be frank, the people throwing around “literally Hitler” insults were not alive during the Holocaust. A majority of people living today probably do not have family that went through it, and they probably are not Jewish. A vast majority of the modern population is far removed from the horrors of the Holocaust, yet Hitler being evil is a common consensus. Why has much of the modern world adopted the Holocaust as their collective tragedy and Hitler as their villain?
The answer to that is complicated and lies in the psychosocial phenomena known as cultural trauma. The term was penned by Jeffrey C. Alexander and his colleagues, and it refers to the collective adoption of a horrendous event, such as the Holocaust, which leaves a lasting impression on the group consciousness. The group accepts significant moral responsibility for the event, allowing them to share in each other’s suffering (Alexander 1). To explain in terms of the Holocaust, the collective acknowledgment that the actions of Hitler and his followers were abhorrent means that our society takes the moral stance that those actions never should have happened. This allows us to feel guilt over the Holocaust’s occurrence, ...

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