Could you forgive a Nazi?
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Re: Could you forgive a Nazi?
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I totally agree. I believe in forgiveness.PashaRu wrote:Yes, of course. Forgiving someone in no way justifies or excuses what he/she did in the past.
The guilt would surely eat away at them and they would punish themselves enough I'm sure, if they had a conscience.
I don't believe in judgement. That is for God alone.
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Even if I was directly affected (I am indirectly affected, as many of my ancestors were European Jewish folk who came to the United States in the 1930s as refugees), it wouldn't be my place to forgive someone for the millions of those who died, who will never even have the chance to forgive.
Josef feeling that someone can forgive him just because of their Jewish heritage is oddly like using that individual to relieve himself of his guilt, too. The whole thing comes across as callous and rather manipulative, so I'd be even less inclined to forgive under the circumstances.
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Exactly, when you are not connected or affected by the tragedy, it doesn't feel hard to forgive someone. But with an event as tragic and sadistic as the holocaust, it brings a whole new layer to it. That's a tough one to think about.ALynnPowers wrote:I agree with you about not being able to forgive because I wasn't directly affected. I feel like it's not my place offering forgiveness for something that I have no connection to. It's basically an insult to the people it did affect, since I don't know the emotional connection like they do.lnygaard wrote:I was talking about this book the other day with my family and it ended up being a discussion on forgiving Nazis. In the book, Josef feels that Sage had the powere to forgive him because of her Jewish heritage---do you think he's right? If someone asked you to forgive them even if it didn't directly affect you, would you do it?
Personally, I think I wouldn't be able to do it. Since I wasn't directly affected by the holocaust or my family I would feel a little strange offering it. I don't think it would be my place... Then again can you hold one SS officer accountable for the entire genocide? What do you think?
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I decided when I was eight years old that I'd rather be a victim than be the perpetrator, because the latter must live with a guilty conscience, and I couldn't bear that. I've done bad things in my life, but nothing THAT BAD, so my conscience is clean.
I can carry a grudge until the cows come home, so I find it hard to believe that I could forgive a Nazi.
In theory, forgiveness sounds great. Oh so holy and pure. People have come to see it as a virtue. "Forgive to be the bigger person." I tend to believe that this is a "false virtue." Of course, it's great to forgive people who are genuinely sorry/remorseful. I truly believe in doing so. But in the more likely event that the person couldn't care less, forgiving them is unwarranted and misguided, plus they may turn around and hurt you again if you don't shun them.
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Very well put. I agree that forgiveness does not justify or excuse their actions. Forgiveness is often more freeing for the the person doing the forgiving than the other way around. I've heard it said that unforgiveness is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die. It's something that has stuck with me for a long time.PashaRu wrote:Yes, of course. Forgiving someone in no way justifies or excuses what he/she did in the past. And whether or not forgiveness is extended depends on how the person himself feels about what he did.
There is no justification for what the Nazis did. The organization was the epitome of evil. We should never, ever minimize or try to excuse the horrors it perpetrated against the world and millions of innocent people. I've walked through Dachau and Mauthausen concentration camps. I've looked into the crematorium ovens. I've been inside the gas chambers. I've been inside the barracks, the "cold storage" room where corpses waiting for cremation were stored, seen the room and touched the table where sickening medical experiments were conducted, and the wall against which prisoners were stood and shot. Let me tell you, it's an experience you'll never forget.
However, I think that people can change. It's possible that a person who was a Nazi in WWII could later realize and understand the awful mistake he made in supporting that evil organization and have a complete change of heart. He could be cut to the heart and have deep remorse and regret over his role in those horrors. He could be a completely changed man. I think we have to allow for that possibility. (This in no way means he should be free from punishment. That's a different matter altogether.)
Don't ever excuse, justify, or forgive the Nazi party. And if a person who was a Nazi feels that what he did was okay, there is no basis to extend forgiveness. But if an individual truly changes, then he can be forgiven. I think we have to be able to differentiate between the person and the organization. Again, forgiving does not mean justifying or excusing. And I think that if we cannot forgive, no matter how much a person has changed and how deeply he/she regrets past actions, that is very sad indeed.
Finally, I realize that for some, especially those whose lives have been personally affected by the atrocities of the Holocaust, it may be extremely difficult to forgive a former Nazi. I understand that and would never criticize such a person. I am grateful that I don't know what it's like to stand in those shoes.
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