Monday, 26 March 2012

Guilt.

Last night we finished watching the incredible film, 'Judgement at Nuremberg' which stars Montgomery Clift(!) and Judy Garland(!), amongst others. It details the 1947 trials of German judges who upheld Hitler's 'law' and it really focusses on who is guilty.



It is such an interesting issue and is not as clear cut as one would think. In our opinion guilt obviously falls with Hitler and his major Nazis (Goering, Goebells, Eichman, Himmler etc.) and also those who personally perpetrated the crimes, but what about when you move away from them?  What about the people involved at every single stage of the Holocaust? What about the old cleaning lady who told the Gestapo that her Jewish employer was sleeping with a 16 year old German girl (breaking the 1935 Nuremburg law of Racial defilement) resulting in him being hanged? What about the driver who drove the trains to the concentration camps? What about the neighbours who did nothing when they saw trains go by crammed with people on the tracks to death? 


Guilt is an enormously difficult and controversial subject, but we do think it is one that needs to be addressed in order that people can move on and also so we can learn from it. How can anyone be expected to move on with their lives if the people who 
ordered their forced sterilisation or murdered their family walk free

When we were younger our schools told us that if you see someone being bullied and you do not do anything about it then you are as bad as the bully, well we think in some ways that can apply here.  The people who told the Nazis where Jewish people were hiding, the people who turned their heads when they saw trains go by filled with children also share some of the guilt, not all of course, but certainly some.

It is too easy for us to say 'well, people were scared, what could they do?' and although in some regards that is a totally valid argument, it is not the entire argument. As we have 
writing about, twice a day for over two weeks, people have a responsibility to one another and that the Holocaust did not just spontaneously happen, it was part of a process, a process which needed millions of people to either actively participate or to turn their eyes. The good citizens of the world who turned their backs as one and half million children were either starved to death, buried alive, gassed or shot in the head do share some of the responsibility for the Holocaust and the quicker we realise that the quicker we realise the impact that we have in the world around us.


Link to Judgement at Nuremburg, its a goood'n:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GagXIYvnY1s

1 comment:

  1. I was actually discussing this with my husband last night, in a context beyond 1939-1945 Germany.

    Hitler rose to power in 1933 and started building an army, something the Germans were prohibited from after WWI. This was no secret. But the French, the Russians, the British sat on their hands hoping Hitler wasn't going to do anything. Poland's then leader, marshal Piłsudzki, wanted to encourage a preventative assault on the Reich but didn't get the support he needed from the other major European armies. By the way, don't want to be making him out as a hero (enough other Poles do it already) it is said this same Polish leader "patented" the concentration/labour camp idea. Not sure who was supposed to be interned there, but that's not the point, is it?

    Meanwhile, if the message is against hate, persecution, prejudice etc, what about in the lead up to the 1933 election in which Hitler came to power? He was a loser, he probably had no friends growing up, he was largely talentless (bar being a fantastic orator)... how much emotion (hate) this man must have generated to convince so many people of his ideology?? All those voters and supporters. Aren't they guilty?

    So much neglect (on part of aforementioned major armies), so much hate (incl. Piłsudzki's camps), so much neglect to react to what was going on at the time (umm, most of the European populous???)

    Getting a bit pessimistic here, but I am having a bad day (already), but shouldn't the question be "who ISN'T guilty?"

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