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Morpurgo, V.E. (2008). Ethics of Responsibility and Psychoanalysis After Auschwitz. Ital. Psychoanal. Annu., 2:31-42.

(2008). The Italian Psychoanalytic Annual, 2:31-42

Ethics of Responsibility and Psychoanalysis After Auschwitz Language Translation

Valeria Egidi Morpurgo

≪Our tragedy and its memories drown in noise≫

(Elie Wiesel, 2000)

These heartfelt words of Elie Wiesel, the writer who survived the extermination camps, and a Nobel Prize for Peace laureate, point out the difficulties we unavoidably come up against when faced with the Shoah.

Between noise and oblivion: defensive strategies. In my view, writing and talking about the Shoah involves risking a mere rhetorical commemoration in which words are merely empty, senseless sounds. Rhetoric is a defence against horror and therefore against awareness and against ethical responsibility. But the silence of forgetfulness — caused by splitting and denial — represents a real strategy of annihilation of the ≪drowned≫ and the ≪saved≫.

The defence of noise and forgetfulness rob all mankind of the possibility to represent or ≪think≫ about Auschwitz, the peak of human suffering.

A discussion on the possibility to ≪think≫ about the Shoah involves thinkers belonging to different schools of thought. We must consider, among others, critical opinions like those of Claude Lanzmann, author of the monumental documentary Shoah, who believes that ≪explanations≫ about the Shoah could in some way ≪justify≫ it (1991) and Moses Kijak who has vigorously pointed out the limits of the capacity of the human mind to work through the mourning of social catastrophes

1 I am using the word Shoah (which means ≪devastation, catastrophe≫) instead of Holocaust.

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