Guilt After Ww2 And The Holocaust Analysis

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The primary concern of this novel is the guilt that is spread through generations after WW2 and the holocaust. An important motif is a question of who must be held responsible for acts committed by the older generation throughout the Holocaust. Michael's generation lay blame on not only the Nazi enforcers but also, the bystanders. This includes people in the previous generation who looked the other way, either by accepting Nazi sympathizers and perpetrators back into society after the war or their passivity during the Holocaust. Michael believes that filial love: “made them irrevocably complicit in their crimes.” He feels that love for the older generation as a complicity shows the long-lasting role of guilt in a nation’s history. For Michael, this guilt becomes a collective national inheritance passed down from generation to generation, an unavoidable “German fate.”…show more content…
Guilt creates inner conflict as well as conflict within relationships and across generations which is seen as destructive. An example of guilt’s destructive capability is the damage that Michael’s guilt over Hanna inflicts on him. Michael’s resulting decision is to “never to take guilt upon myself or feel guilty, never again to love anyone whom it would hurt to lose” which makes him hard-hearted, sabotaging his relationships with others. Even though guilt can be destructive it also encourages people to take responsibility for their actions, to recognize their mistakes and wrongdoings, and to avoid them in the future. For example, the collective guilt that Michael’s generation inherits from the Holocaust emboldens them to accept their parent generations mistakes, know not to follow in their footsteps and condemn Nazi war
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