Articulating the Ineffable

The Voices of the Terrified
  • Charles P. Webel
Part of the Twenty-first Century Perspectives on War, Peace, and Human Conflict book series (21CP)


It began like any other day, but it would be a day like no other. In a moment, this “very Catholic,” 46-year-old Spanish nurse’s life would change forever, and not for the better.


Human Condition Terrorist Attack Concentration Camp Holocaust Survivor Liberation Theology 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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  1. 2.
    Judith Herman, Trauma and Recovery (New York: Basic Books, 1997), 1,33.Google Scholar
  2. 8.
    Phenomenology is a systematic, originally philosophical, approach for describing the lived experiences of embodied human beings in this world. It was initiated (as “pure, transcendental, descriptive,” and/or “genetic phenomenology”) by the German philosopher Edmund Husserl during the early twentieth century, and was further developed (as “existential phenomenology”) by his student Martin Heidegger and by the French philosophers Jean-Paul Sartre and Maurice Merleau-Ponty. Phenomenology has been “applied” to a wide range of fields in the human sciences, especially to psychology, psychiatry, and psychotherapy (by Rollo May, among others). Husserl’s writings are notoriously difficult, but not entirely incomprehensible. See, e.g., The Essential Husserl Basic Writings in Transcendental Phenomenology, ed. Don Welton (Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 1999). Merleau-Ponty states that “phenomenology can be practiced and identified as a manner or style of thinking, that existed as a movement before arriving at complete awareness of itself as a philosophy…. We shall find in ourselves, and nowhere else, the unity and true meaning of phenomenology… is accessible only through a phenomenological method… to be a ‘descriptive psychology’…. The whole universe of science is built upon the world as directly experienced … we must begin by reawakening the basic experience of the world.” Maurice Merleau-Ponty, The Phenomenology of Perception (London and New York: Routledge, 2002), viii–ix. For psychological applications of philosophical phenomenology,Google Scholar
  3. see Rollo May, Ernest Angel, and Henri F. Ellenberger, eds., Existence A New Dimension in Psychiatry and Psychology (New York: Simon and Schuster Clarion Books, 1958);Google Scholar
  4. Amedeo Giorgi, ed., Phenomenology and Psychological Research (Pittsburgh: Duquesne University Press, 1985);Google Scholar
  5. and Steiner Kvale, Interviews: An Introduction to Qualitative Research Interviewing (Thousand Oaks and London: Sage Publications, 1996).Google Scholar
  6. 31.
    Ibid. For the history of bombing during war, see Sven Lindquist, A History of Bombing, trans. Linda Haverty Rugg (New York: The New Press, 2001). For a comprehensive—and controversial—account of the allied bombing of Germany during World War II,Google Scholar
  7. see Jorg Fischer, Der Brand Deutschland im Bombenkrieg 1940–45 (Munich: Propylaen Verlag, 2002).Google Scholar
  8. Also see W.G. Sebald, On the Natural History of Destruction, trans. Anthea Bell (New York: Random House, 2003), vii–104. For an ethical analysis of bombing in general, and of the allied bombings of Germany (where over 600,000 civilians died between 1940 and 1945 because of that bombing) and Japan, see Jonathan Glover, Humanity A Moral History of the Twentieth Century (New Haven: Yale University Press), 64–116.Google Scholar
  9. 40.
    “DUD,” interview with author, Amsterdam, Netherlands, May 6, 2003. On the Holocaust, see Raul Hilberg’s classic works Perpetrators Victims Bystanders The Jewish Catastrophe 1933–45 (New York: HarperPerennial, 1992), and The Destruction of the European Jews (New York: New Viewpoints, 1973),Google Scholar
  10. as well as Eric A. Johnson, Nazi Terror The Gestapo, Jews, and Ordinary Germans (New York: Basic Books, 2000)Google Scholar
  11. 51.
    See Hilberg, Perpetrators Victims Bystanders, 45, and Eric A. Johnson, Nazi Terror, for details about the “concentration” (labor/death) camps, and the respective roles played by Germans and their supporters. For more details about the killers and killing, also see Christopher R. Browning, Ordinary Men Reserve Police Battalion 101 and the Final Solution in Poland (New York: HarperPerennial, 1998)Google Scholar
  12. and Daniel Jonah Goldhagen, Hitler’s Willing Executioners Ordinary Germans and the Holocaust (New York: Vintage Books, 1997).Google Scholar

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© Charles P. Webel 2004

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  • Charles P. Webel

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