The Bellingham Herald linked to an article on a Bellevue man who some are accusing of being a former member of a WWII Nazi death squad. (Seattle Times link here) An effort is underway to get Yugoslavia native Peter Egner's citizenship revoked.
"A complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Seattle alleges that Egner (now 86 years old) was not a conscript, but instead served as a guard and interpreter with the notorious Nazi-run Security Police and Security Service (SPSS) in Belgrade, Serbia (then Yugoslavia) from 1941 through the fall of 1943, when he was wounded. During that time, the complaint stated, his unit participated in the roundup and systematic killings of tens of thousands of Serbian Jews, Gypsies and political dissidents."Apparently he can't be charged with what they have. I have mixed feelings about this move to revoke his citizenship -- and it doesn't have much to do with pity on an old man.
We should learn from this though. Few in our generation can imagine what kind of person could commit the atrocities attributed to the Nazi's over a decade. What they should realize is that it doesn't take an especially cruel or identifiably "bad" person to participate in cruelty and wickedness. All it takes is human nature. That means we all qualify. That means we are all capable.
Oh, you say, then our environment must be at fault. After all, how could so many people in that era agree implicitly with Hitler's "final solution" unless they were coerced or brainwashed? That is the wrong question. Here is the correct question: How in heaven's name were there actually some that did not go along with Hitler?
You see it doesn't take much for us to rationalize our way out of guilt feelings. One of my favorite stories is one by Shirley Jackson called The Lottery. It's a story everyone should read because it portrays, in my opinion, an incredible portrait of society and individuals who use it to legitimize sin. The scariest part about the story is that Jackson made it so believable.
What makes any of us think we are so special as to be able to resist evil when the whole world is calling it good?
Labels: THEOS KAI ANTHROPOS