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The Uniqueness Of The Holocaust

December 11, 1988

Elaine Kendall's congratulatory review of Anne Roiphe's study of the Holocaust, "A Season for Healing" (Book Review, Nov. 27), is a distressing inversion and distortion of the significance of that unique tragedy.

Rather than commend Roiphe for slipping the planned murder of 6 million Jews into the larger context of 100 million murdered in this century, Kendall should re-examine the notion that sees only a quantitative difference between the Holocaust and other manifestations of brutality.

Those who insist upon the unique nature of the Holocaust do not do so in order to deny the universal application that Kendall seeks. Indeed, the greatest fear of those who survived the Holocaust is that the tragedy, having occurred, has become possible.

But to relativize the specifically anti-Semitic nature of the Holocaust is to dilute it of meaning and debase the standard. The significance of the Holocaust does not lie, as Kendall claims, in the numbers, but in the intention behind them. The Final Solution was the final solution of the "Jewish Problem" and was the solution that called for the total extermination of one people, the Jewish people.

Although the Holocaust should serve as an important lesson to us all, Kendall's review demonstrates a disturbing lack of apprecation for what that lesson is.


Chair, Holocaust Committee

Anti Defamation League

Los Angeles

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