And the Guilt Goes To…….

By Kambia Bothun

When looking into the details of the events surrounding the Holocaust, a conclusion can be drawn as to who should hold some blame and how much of the blame they should hold, but perhaps it is more important to wonder why we ask who is guilty at all. There is now no way that the placement of guilt can provide justice for the events. More importantly there was no way a placement of guilt could have provided justice at the time either. When reading into history, it becomes easy to determine who was is the right and wrong, but are we asking who is guilty to seek justice or to determine how to not let it happen again? One of the most astonishing things to realize when reading Marion Kaplan, Between Dignity and Despair Jewish Life in Nazi Germany through the events of and leading up to the Holocaust is realizing that anyone could have been guilty and to some extent everyone was. The German people did not have a special set of traits that made them the ideal nation for such events to occur. Anti-semitism, or prejudice overall, may be ingrained to human nature to the slightest extent, but it takes a perfect combination of environmental factors and pressures to turn prejudice into the murder of millions of people. Even in today’s society, “modern governments that wish to commit mass murder will seldom fail in their efforts for being unable to induce ‘ordinary men’ to become their ‘willing executioners’” . Today we turn this guilt into reflection. We must understand everybody’s role in the travesty, but aim to place guilt not to punish, but to prevent. Whether it be a commander of the Reserve Police Battalion, a policeman, or a middle-class German family, everyone had a responsibility to their fellow people to which they failed. Each person holds varying levels of guilt under differing circumstances, but there is no justice to serve other than learning and refusing to let history repeat itself.