The Auschwitz Taboo: Reveals what the community fears...

The Auschwitz Taboo: Reveals what the community fears...

Think on these things - The Auschwitz Taboo Compiled from Dr. Toben Dec. 2004

Prof Dr Robert Hepp[1]

"Occasional experiments that I have conducted in my seminars convince me that 'Auschwitz' [the most well known site of the Holocaust] is ethnologically speaking one of the few taboo topics that our 'taboo free society' still preserves.[2] While they did not react at all to other stimulants, 'enlightened' central European students who refused to accept any taboos at all, would react to a confrontation with 'revisionist' [denial] texts' about the gas chambers at Auschwitz in just an 'elementary' way (including the comparable physiological symptoms) as members of primitive Polynesian tribes would react to an infringement of one of their taboos. The students were literally besides themselves and were neither prepared nor capable of soberly discussing the presented theses. For the sociologist this is a very important point because a society's taboos reveal what it holds sacred.

Taboos also reveal what the community fears.[3] Currently fear of perceived danger takes on the form of ticks and phobias that remind us of obsessive neurotics. However, it cannot be denied that numerous taboos have a function that preserves individuals from danger, and even if taboos are a part of an individual's make-up, it is difficult to ascertain if the fear of the one rests on the power of the other, or vice versa.

It is thus understandable that priests and rulers have never hesitated to use taboos to secure their power; to date there has been no society which has relinquished the use of taboos to secure its own power base. In a 'modern society', such as the Federal Republic [of Germany], the formal rules of behaviour and sanctions play a larger role than it does within the Polynesian tribes to which European explorers first drew our attention.

In our society, besides the usual 'legal' commands and prohibitions that control behaviour, there are also commands and prohibitions that are self-regulating. If such expectations are frustrated then, as in the Polynesian society, an automatic sanctions process is activated that does not need to be justified.

A 'modern' society does not in any way react differently to breeches of taboos than does a 'primitive' society. Taboos are generally perceived as 'outrageous' and 'abominations' and produce spontaneous 'revulsion' and 'disgust'. In the end the perpetrator is isolated, excluded from society and himself 'tabooed'."

[1] Robert Hepp: "Die Kampagne gegen Hellmut Diwald von 1978/79 - Zweiter Teil: "Richtigstellungen", in: Rolf-Josepf Eibicht (Hg.), Hellmut Diwald.
Sein Vermächtnis für Deutschland. Sein Mut zur Geschichte, Hohenrain-Verlag, Tübingen 1994, p.140 (

[2] Cf. Franz Steiner, Taboo, Cohen & West, London 1956, p.20ff.

[3] Hutton-Webster, Taboo. A Sociological Study, Stanford University Press, Stanford 1942. Reprinted London 1973, p.14: "Fear is systematized in taboo."