Ethics of Holocaust Scholarship

We believe...

  • We believe that everyone who said No to the Nazi regime deserves to have their story told, regardless of ethnicity, political agenda, sexual orientation, or religious affiliation.
  • We believe that those who claim to have resisted the Nazis, but who did not, should be exposed, and the truth told about their activities during the war.
  • We believe that not all Germans were “bad” people; that not all Germans agreed with National Socialist atrocities; and, that individuals – not German society – are responsible for crimes against humanity (no collective guilt).
  • We believe that the silence of “good” Germans, those who did not resist the National Socialist regime, enabled those crimes against humanity to take place through their very silence (there is collective shame).
  • We believe that innere Emigration (inner emigration) is a myth and that an individual’s actions during the Holocaust defined his or her character, not what he or she claimed postwar.
  • We believe that all archives containing documents pertaining to the Holocaust should be open (“sunshine law”), available to any scholar for review and study, and that no individual or institution should be allowed to block access to files from that era.
  • We believe that the historical record should not be skewed by theologians, clergy, religious professionals, or those whose devotion to faith trumps faithfulness to scholarship.
  • We believe that primary source documents (Gestapo files, official trial records, interrogation transcripts, diaries, correspondence, newspaper articles) are generally more accurate than postwar memoirs or interviews, and that all primary sources must be carefully compared (historical process) to determine the most likely version of events.
  • We believe that no one can know everything about the Shoah, and that therefore collaborative projects yield the best results.
  • We believe that the Holocaust reminds us that no civilization is incapable of crimes against humanity; that it demonstrates that in the worst of times, goodness does not die; and, that informed dissent and civil disobedience during the Shoah came from flawed, imperfect, noble human beings, not from martyrs.

On September 18, 2012, the board of directors of the Center for White Rose Studies unanimously reaffirmed its commitment to the Ethics of Scholarship, specifically as it relates to the Holocaust (and beyond). We believe wholeheartedly in the integrity of scholarship.

If you wish to join us on this journey, please respond to our blog post: I believe.

For additional reading on the above topics, we recommend:

  • Schlant, Ernestine. The Language of Silence. New York: Routledge, 1999. 
  • Mitscherlich, Alexander and Margarete. The Inability to Mourn, translated by Beverley R. Placzek. New York: Grove Press, 1967.
  • Geyer, Michael and Miriam Hansen. "German-Jewish Memory and National Consciousness." In Geoffrey Hartman (Ed.). Holocaust Remembrance: The Shape of Memory. Oxford: Blackwell, 1994.