During his initiation into what one survivor labeled the “Holocaust Kingdom” and others would describe as the “Anus Mundi,” the young and naïve Auschwitz prisoner, Primo Levi reached outside a window for an icicle to quench his thirst. A guard patrolling outside rudely slapped it away, prompting Primo to ask, “Warum?” Why? The reply was, “Hier ist kein warum.” Here there is no why. This chapter provides useful insights into the studies of the Holocaust. Using primarily historiographic, not archival, material, it delineates the diverse roles of the perpetrators, and then narrows its focus to those who perceived themselves as victims of forces beyond their control, and to those who participated in acts of brutality and mass murder but still appeared and acted as ordinary people.
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