If I had to give the name of a thinker for whom History is a compound and a tool of invaluable valour, I would instantly go to Marx without any doubt. To explain the historicism in Marx analyses and theories here and now would be reverberant, but I think it will be enough to mention that History is divided in differentiated periods (modes of production), which are overcame through dialectics (class struggle more precisely), and will have the disappearance of the State as its final result, and the formation of the communist society, leading to the perfect organization and general happiness. That was a simplistic and even naive exposition of Marx or basic Marxism or historical materialism or whatever; but as I said, it will be enough for what I am about to say/ write in this article. Anyway, what we can see is History conceived as a metanarrative (clearly organized and divided, and moving towards one specific direction, the end of class society and classes themselves) and in fact an optimistic point of view on History (for Marx, the classless society was something that inevitably was going to happen, the result of History and the mechanism of dialectics working on it).
When we saw Horckheimer/ Adorno, we could discover to distinct marxists actually leading Marxism to a new level, through considering aspects that were not present perhaps on the period of life of Marx himself. Horckheimer and Adorno made themselves the question (and they were not alone questioning that) of if was still possible to live, to think and to make arts after the Holocaust, and if it had a sense anyway. With Horckheimer/ Adorno, even without renouncing to their militant speech, we delve into a way of thinking in which History seems to not have sense anymore, or it is loss. On the other hand, the impending ending of the class society does not seem to be so imminent now. Nihilism against optimism (or voluntarism), unsense against sense, are things we can advise when comparing Horckheimer/ Adorno with Marx.
For both Marx and the team Horckheimer/ Adorno, History has a magnificent importance; for the first of them as engine of History, for the second (Horckheimer/ Adorno) as a shadow that darken present and future.
It is hard to know how Marx would had reacted before Horckheimer/ Adorno analyses or theories, even if numerous intellectuals of Marxism have reacted negatively to them (many others positively too); regarding to the question of if it is possible or desirable to make art after the Holocaust (question a bit rhetorical for Horckheimer/ Adorno themselves actually, since they seemed to think that the answer was "not" really) I would like to remember the answer given by a lot of artists and thinkers at the time: yes, of course, more than ever, with more reasons than ever.