'Kristallnacht' Remembered: History & Communal Responsibility
Commonweal, (February 12, 1999), pages 12-15
6 Pages Posted: 23 Apr 2014
Date Written: February 12, 1999
The anniversary of Kristallnacht is used to revisit the debate between those who would bury the past and those who would assign various forms of "hereditary guilt" to the descendants of the perpetrators (in this case the German nation). The author rejects both approaches and instead introduces the communitarian concept of "communal responsibility". It holds that when we are members of a community, we benefit from its assets (even if we did not help form them) and must share in the corrective measures for past transgressions (even if we were not alive when they occurred).
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