Losing Trust in the World

Holocaust Scholars Confront Torture

Edited by Leonard Grob and John K. Roth

  • Published: December 2016
  • Subject Listing: Jewish Studies
  • Bibliographic information: 245 pp., 6 x 9 in.
  • Series: Stephen S. Weinstein Series in Post-Holocaust Studies
  • Contents

In July 1943, the Gestapo arrested an obscure member of the resistance movement in Nazi-occupied Belgium. When his torture-inflicting interrogators determined he was no use to them and that he was a Jew, he was deported to Auschwitz. Liberated in 1945, Jean Améry went on to write a series of essays about his experience. No reflections on torture are more compelling.

Améry declared that the victims of torture lose trust in the world at the "very first blow." The contributors to this volume use their expertise in Holocaust studies to reflect on ethical, religious, and legal aspects of torture then and now. Their inquiry grapples with the euphemistic language often used to disguise torture and with the question of whether torture ever constitutes a "necessary evil." Differences of opinion reverberate, raising deeper questions: Can trust be restored? What steps can we as individuals and as a society take to move closer to a world in which torture is unthinkable?
Leonard Grob is professor emeritus of philosophy at Fairleigh Dickinson University. John K. Roth is the Edward J. Sexton Professor Emeritus of Philosophy and founding director of the Center for the Study of the Holocaust, Genocide, and Human Rights (now the Mgrublian Center for Human Rights), Claremont McKenna College. The other contributors are Margaret Brearley, Suzanne Brown-Fleming, Dorota Glowacka, Peter J. Haas, Bjrn Krondorfer, David Patterson, Sarah K. Pinnock, and Didier Pollefeyt.

"An excellent resource for creating and guiding discussion for social and political action to ban torture altogether."
-Martin Rumscheidt, author of Revelation and Theology: An Analysis of the Barth-Harnack Correspondence of 1923

"The Holocaust provides a rich context for thinking about these very compelling issues and what it means to live in a world in which human beings continue to be tortured."
-Rachel N. Baum, Sam and Helen Stahl Center for Jewish Studies, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

"It is sad, indeed tragic, that these brilliant essays on torture and rape must be read as a depiction of our contemporary world even more than as a commentary on our historical past. Losing Trust in the World probes the ethics and implications of these tools of the oppressor, understanding both the perpetrators and their victims. Each essay is insightful; joined together, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. The result is a disquieting work of significant moral import."
-Michael Berenbaum, American Jewish University

Prologue The Questions of Torture / Leonard Grob and John K. Roth

Part One What Is Torture?
1. Torture during the Holocaust: Responsible Witnessing / Leonard Grob
2. Torture / Bjrn Krondorfer
3. Speech under Torture: Bearing Witness to the Howl / Dorota Glowacka

Part Two Is Torture Justifiable?
4. Johann Baptist Neuhäusler and Torture in Dachau / Suzanne Brown-Fleming
5. The Emerging Halachic Debate about Torture / Peter J. Haas
6. Torture in Light of the Holocaust: An Impossible Possibility / Didier Pollefeyt
7. The Justification of Suffering: Holocaust Theodicy and Torture / Sarah K. Pinnock

Part Three What Can Be Done about Torture?
8. Assuaging Pain: Therapeutic Care for Torture Survivors / Margaret Brearley
9. Torture and the Totalitarian Appropriation of the Human Being: From National Socialism to Islamic Jidhadism / David Patterson
10. Crying Out: Rape as Torture and the Responsibility to Protect / John K. Roth

Epilogue Again, the Questions of Torture / Leonard Grob and John K. Roth
Selected Bibliography
Editors and Contributors

"A compelling body of essays. . . . Readable and challenging. In the end, I'm not sure I know exactly how to 'confront' torture. But I am better equipped to try."
-Kelly McFall, New Books in Genocide Studies (NBN)