One of determinants of humanity, mentioned by Giambatisto Vico, is burial of the dead. The author of this study does not deliberate on burial conceived as attempts at taming dread of the deceased or an act stemming from fear of the impurity of the corpse. He is interested in testimonies describing situations in which the human corpse is defiled and the burial ritual - violated, as well as in attempts at restoring the thus undermined order of things. Subsequently, he ponders on the nature of interment in extreme situations (such as the world wars or the Holocaust) and the cultural meanings borne by the act of defiling the corpse and desacralising the burial ground. The article starts with recalling classical tradition (Homer, Sophocles, Virgil, and the Bible) and goes on to study records from the Warsaw ghetto (primarily those by Rachela Auerbach). In doing so the author focuses on burial comprehended as the obligation of the living towards those who were not allowed to survive. In this context, efforts to fulfil the burial ritual should be understood as a final protection of the foundations of humanity at the time of Shoah.
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