Regimes of Terror and Memory: Beyond the Uniqueness of the Holocaust illustrates how convenient it has become in r not recognizing other regimes of terror in recent history. Manfred Henningsen compares the memory of Nazi Germany’s macro criminal record with the remembrances of Stalin’s Russia and Mao’s China, the Japanese Empire, Pol Pot’s Cambodia, Sukarno’s Indonesia . He discusses the cultural reasons for these memory distortions in the West and in the societies that have experienced these macro crimes of genocidal violence. Henningsen has embedded his search in an autobiographical context that begins with his birth, upbringing and education in Germany from 1938 to 1969, continues after his move to Hawaii in 1970 in the American political culture and becomes more realized through extensive traveling in Europe, Asia, and Africa.
Manfred Henningsen was a professor at the University of Hawaii at Manoa in Honolulu where he taught until his retirement in 2020 for fifty years.
Introduction: My Discovery of the Holocaust and Other Democides
Chapter 1: The Diversity of Mass Killing Regimes
Chapter 2: Terror and Memory: Beyond the Uniqueness of the Holocaust
Chapter 3: From Denial to Recognition and Reconciliation
Chapter 4: The Contested Memories of Buchenwald
Chapter 5: The Politics of Forgetting and Remembering
Chapter 6: American Amnesia
Chapter 7: The Holocaust and the Experiences of Evil
Driven by personal circumstances and an intense curiosity informed by an amazing array of books, movies, and observations, Manfred Henningsen compares, in lucid prose, crimes against humanity in numerous countries. The Holocaust, he demonstrates, is one of numerous mass killings by political regimes around the world. And most of those regimes refuse to acknowledge the evil they did.
“At a time when global civilization has lost its moral compass, Manfred Henningsen’s Regimes of Terror provides a north star for our dark night of the soul. He embraces his personal formative experience in the spirit of a moral and philosophical anamnesis. His move from Germany to the United States and his marriage to Kareda, an African American woman, woke him up to the legacy of slavery and the collective refusal of modern America to come to terms with its past. He draws from his own story, beginning with a childhood in WWII Germany to illuminate his country’s success in coming to terms with the horrors of Nazi rule. This was a process so unusual in politics that Germans created a special term for it, Vergangenheitsbewältigung, meaning a society coming to terms with its traumatic past. Henningsen contrasts Germany’s remarkable success in emerging as a relatively wise and moral society with the conspicuous failure of the United States in confronting a foundation built on chattel slavery and the genocide of its indigenous population. He casts a comparative gaze on Japan, Cambodia, Russia, Indonesia, Australia and China. In conclusion he challenges the reader to consider the urgency of a collective moral, intellectual and political awakening in a post-truth age of appalling destructiveness. Regimes of Terror is a clearly written cornerstone work for those who are waking up to ‘love of truth-seeking’ as the ultimate answer to moral, political and existential catastrophe."
"This is an extraordinary and, indeed, a unique work that has no equal and almost certainly never will. That is because as a child Henningsen lived through the Nazi genocide campaigns in the early part of the twentieth century and as an adult scholar has studied it and a range of other genocides in exceptional detail. His sources are wide-ranging and analyzed in great depth and with compassion. The question of whether the Holocaust was unique arose with great intensity in the 1990s and has continued into the twenty-first century. Regimes of Terror and Memory should finally bring that debate to a close."