We will not understand an Eichmann unless we grasp not only the individual character, but the exhilaration infused into that drab character by his context of revolutionary excitement and urgent high purpose, so that bullying brutal action was transformed into heroism.
Villains are rarely simple men.
… the theological struggle to comprehend the Holocaust as an episode in an enigmatic deity’s intentions regarding his chosen people continues to shadow putatively secular debate.
I was especially terrified of Germans, because they clearly glorified in their wickedness; they wore black uniforms, flaunted an insignia of a human skull couched on human bones, and unabashedly proclaimed themselves ‘Nasties’. At a time when Australia stood in real and present danger from the Japanese, my dreams were full of stolid minions of men in black… invading across the back paddock, through the back gate and into the kitchen to kill us all.
In my view understanding does not require anything so heroic as ‘identification’, which is at best a slapdash procedure and too often a misleading one.
What most disquiets about a too-shrill insistence on the uniqueness of the Holocaust is the danger that, if the Holocaust were indeed to be accepted as unique, it would risk falling out with history.
Fractured identity is not confined to the innocent.