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I really doubt that Langer's concept of "choiceless choice" is helpful; I would think that the phrase has been taken up because it replaces a too-complex phenomenon with a sound-byte under the guise of being insightful. In her review "Discussing Holocaust Literature" (Simon Wiesenthal Annual 2 ), Ruth K. Angress writes that Langer denies camp inmates "the possibility of making choices and acting as moral agents": "But then he gives an odd example of how choice was abrogated. It involves a Jewish woman who killed another woman's newborn baby to save the mother. It would seem that this action did involve the element of moral choice which Langer says did not exist in the camps. It is, in fact, a variation of a standard type of ethical dilemma, usually resolved in favor of the mother....[A] voluntary act performed for a consciously adopted reason and for another person involves moral choice by a moral agent. But, it was "a deed of naked necessity," according to our author. Necessary for the woman who committed it? If words are used in such a slippery fashion, any example of a decision made by an inmate can be brushed aside as a 'choiceless choice,' a formulation so nonsensical that even Langer has the grace to put it in inverted commas" (188). Gary Weissman > Interested subscribers might wish to look at Rosenberg & Myers, eds., > ECHOES FROM THE HOLOCAUST, Temple University Press 1988, Ch 5 (Lawrence > L.Langer, 'The Dilemma of Choice in the Deathcamps'). Langer here raises > the notion of 'choiceless choices'; this could easily apply to the > Holocaust in general. > > - Warren Thompson