This book comprises 14 essays by scholars who disagree about the methods and purposes of comparing Nazism and Communism. The central idea is that if these two different memories of evil were to develop in isolation, their competition for significance would distort the real evils both movements propagated. Whilst many reject this comparison because they feel it could relativize the evil of one of these movements, the claim that a political movement is uniquely evil can only be made by comparing it to another movement.
How do these issues affect postwar interrelations between memory and history? Are there tensions between the ways postwar societies remember these atrocities, and the ways in which intellectuals and scholars reconstruct what happened? Nazism and Communism have been constantly compared since the 1920s. A sense of the ways in which these comparisons have been used and abused by both Right and Left belongs to our common history.
These twentieth century evils invite comparison, if only because of their traumatic effects. We have an obligation to understand what happened, and we also have an obligation to understand how we have dealt with it.
Table of Contents
Part 1: Approaches 1. Nazism-Communism: Delineating the comparison 2. The Uses and Abuses of Comparison 3. Worstward Ho: On comparing totalitarianisms 4. Imagining the Absolute: Mapping western conceptions of evil 5. Remembrance and Knowledge: Nationalism and Stalinism in comparative discourse 6. Comparative Evil: Degrees, numbers and the problem of measure Part 2: Frames of Comparison 7. The Institutional Frame: Totalitarianism, Extermination and the State 8. Asian Communist Regimes: The other experience of the extreme 9. A Lesser Evil?: Italian fascism in/and the totalitarian equation 10. On the Moral Blindness of Communism Part 3: Legacies 11. Totalitarian Attempts, Anti-Totalitarian Networks: Thoughts on the taboo of comparison 12. If Hitler Invaded Hell: Distinguishing between Nazism and communism during World War II, the Cold War and since the fall of communism 13. The Memory of Crime and the Formation of Identity 14. Mirror-Writing of a Good Life?
Helmut Dubiel is the incumbent of the Max Weber-Chair at New York University.
Gabriel Motzkin is currently the Dean of the Faculty of Humanities at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.