Title: To Look or not to Look: The Backward Engineering of Atrocity
Authors: Howard Stein and Seth Allcorn
ABSTRACT: The organizational concept of “backward engineering” is used as a hermeneutic device to illuminate processes that were employed to implement the Holocaust. Here we study how rationality can be used in the service of irrationality. In particular, rationalized, engineered and bureaucratically organized inputs, throughputs, and outputs contain unconscious processes embodied in the engineering of atrocity. The process of the “conversion” of experiencing subjects into disposable objects is examined. Finally, the psychodynamics of the inability to look backward and take apart the vast supply chain leading to the actual killing are examined. An understanding of organizational psychodynamics contributes to the psychohistorical study of atrocity on a vast scale.