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Between Sacred and the Profane: Holocaust Collaboration and ‘Political Religion’



This article interprets the genealogy of the concept of ‘political religion’ in Holocaust research from the fundamental division between ‘sacred’ and ‘profane’ understandings of traditional religions. It argues that ‘political religion’ is understood as ‘sacred’ and unique when associated with Nazism, whilst its application to European fascism more generally has had a character of understanding religion as comparative and measureable from a ‘profane’ set of criteria. Yet, in light of research on Nazi ideology and fascist collaboration in the Holocaust, which effectively imply an interaction between Nazi and fascist agencies, the article finds that ‘political religion’ needs a re-theorization that can accommodate for the integration between the sacred and the profane.