I thank Dr. Morton Deutsch, Dr. Michelle Fine, Dr. Wolf Kaiser, and Dr. Norbert Kampe for their helpful comments on earlier versions of this paper. Dr. Kaiser, Dr. Kampe, and Ms. Gaby Müller-Oelrichs welcomed me to the House of Wannsee Conference. I am most appreciative of their interest in and assistance with this research. I thank Ms. Lore Kleiber for her insightful essay on Holocaust education. Any errors of fact or interpretation in this text are my own. Support for this project was provided by a PSC-CUNY Award, jointly funded by The Professional Staff Congress and The City University of New York.
How This Was Possible: Interpreting the Holocaust
Article first published online: 14 MAR 2011
© 2011 The Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues
Journal of Social Issues
Volume 67, Issue 1, pages 205–224, March 2011
How to Cite
Opotow, S. (2011), How This Was Possible: Interpreting the Holocaust. Journal of Social Issues, 67: 205–224. doi: 10.1111/j.1540-4560.2010.01694.x
- Issue published online: 14 MAR 2011
- Article first published online: 14 MAR 2011
Moral exclusion occurs when individuals or groups are seen as outside the boundary in which moral values, rules, and considerations of fairness apply. It can render violence and injustice normal and acceptable. This talk describes research conducted at the House of Wannsee Conference, a cultural institution near Berlin, where the liquidation of Europe's Jews was planned in 1942. Now a commemorative site and education center, this institution's interpretive strategies increase visitors’ knowledge about past exclusionary processes. The House of Wannsee's interpretive strategies emphasize the role of occupational groups in society. Consistent with that focus, this talk discusses psychology at two points in time: Gestalt psychology, which flourished in Germany from 1920 to 1933, and psychology from 2002 to the present in light of contemporary concerns about psychologists’ involvement in detention and torture.