Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Suspected Nazi War Criminal to be Extradited


Newspapers around the world are reporting that suspected Nazi war criminal, Charles Zentai, has lost his battle to avoid extradition from Australia. He will be repatriated to Hungary to face charges that in 1944 he beat 18 year old Peter Balazs to death for refusing to wear a Jewish yellow star.

Zentai, like Nazi war criminals before him and mindless patriots of every nation today, will most certainly defend himself on grounds that he was only following orders.

Hannah Arendt provided a chilling analysis of the kind of evil that is perpetrated by "nobodies" in her book on Responsibility and Judgment:

The trouble with the Nazi criminals was precisely that they renounced voluntarily all personal qualities, as if nobody were left to be either punished or forgiven. They protested time and again that they had never done anything out of their own initiative, that they had no intentions whatsoever, good or bad, and that they only obeyed orders.

To put it another way: the greatest evil perpetrated is the evil committed by nobodies, that is, by human beings who refuse to be persons. Within the conceptual framework of these considerations we could say that wrongdoers who refuse to think by themselves what they are doing and who also refuse in retrospect to think about it, that is, go back and remember what they did (which is teshuvah or repentance), have actually failed to constitute themselves into somebodies. By stubbornly remaining nobodies they prove themselves unfit for intercourse with others who, good, bad, or indifferent, are at the very least persons.

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