Perpetrators Of The Holocaust
“If only it were all so simple! If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?”
- Alexander Solzhenitsyn
Alexander Solzhenitsyn, in his book The Gulag Archipelago, observes that often there isn’t a clear way to separate the completely ‘good’ and the completely ‘evil’ elements in a society. Often as Humans, we have wrestle with a conscience that considers an issue from different angles, with different levels of priorities. depending on our relationship with those who are affect by our decisions. The Gulag Archipelago is a dark and mind-numbing personal account of the gulag system of prisons in Soviet Russia. However the same can be said about the Holocaust. It is very easy to identify Hitler as evil; However can the same be said, for example, of the train driver who drove the train to the Nazi concentration camps?
This article will analyse the arguments made by Guenter Lewy in his book ‘Perpetrators’ which shows us how difficult it can be to identify the perpetrators of the Holocaust when we move away from the top leaders of the Nazi Party.
Guenter Lewy makes a similar point as the one above. To argue that the holocaust was caused by evil individuals in an evil society is to first, drastically simplify a tragic event and secondly, in-fact more dangerously, distance oneself from an event to claim that in a similar situation they would not have acted in a similar fashion. Lewy sets out his point initially by showing the reader that phycological tests conducted post-war indicated that, “leading Nazis were neither unique personalities nor insane.”…