Research Unit Politics

Boundaries of Perception

The Left and the Holocaust

This project aims to produce a succinct summary of the research interests and findings of the research Group »A New History of the Labor and Union Movement«, intended also to address the broader public. Of central interest here is why the Holocaust was not perceived as the major genocidal event of World War II within the labor and union movement in the late 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s. Intricately related to this is the question of why the political left for a long time only reflected partially, if at all, on the damage inflicted on some of its most central categories and concepts by this mass murder.

The project therefore aims to investigate the realms of the possible with regard to deriving insights from the Holocaust. Following the broader project, this endeavor will approach the related constellations through the life stories of protagonists from the milieu of the political left. Yet the aim is not to produce biographies in miniature: Rather, the intellectual and lifeworld experiences of the individuals in question will be at the heart of the project. The aim is to place these individual experiences in relation to the developments of the time, thereby to discern the historical legitimacy of the concepts, categories, and worlds of perception of the labor and union movement.

This research project is part of the research group »A New History of the Labor and Union Movement« funded by the Hans Böckler Foundation.