In early 1942, at the Wannsee Conference near Berlin, the Nazi Party decided on the last phase of what it called the “Final Solution” of the “Jewish problem” and spelled out plans for the systematic murder of all European Jews. In 1942 and 1943, Jews in the western occupied countries including France and Belgium were deported by the thousands to the death camps mushrooming across Europe. In Poland, huge death camps such as Auschwitz began operating with ruthless efficiency. The murder of Jews in German-occupied lands stopped only in last months of the war, as the German armies were retreating toward Berlin. By the time Hitler committed suicide in April 1945, some 6 million Jews had died.
The ruin of the Second Temple marks a key point in the history of the world. Not only was the Jewish people exiled from the land of Israel, the Jews also lost their war against self-centeredness. For the first time since its inception, the tenet, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” was not the guiding rule within the nation. Jews still had high regard for unity, as they still do to this day, but they began to use it to gain self-centered purposes instead of as a means for correction of the ego and as an asset to be passed on to all mankind.
The second major goal of the department is to apply philosophy's analytical approach to people's most basic assumptions about the world and human experience. For example, many people think they can tell reality from unreality, knowledge from ignorance, sense from nonsense, mind from matter, and persons from things. They think they know the fate of a person after death, what counts as a good society, and what counts as a good life. Philosophy scrutinizes basic assumptions such as these and tries to arrive at the conclusions best supported by reason.