tirsdag 20. mai 2014

Individuell og kollektiv skyld

Richard von Weizsäcker var Tysklands president (statsoverhode) i 10 år. Faren Ernst var utenriksminister under Hitler og ble etter krigen dømt til 7 års fengsel for å medvirket til holocaust. 8. mai 1985 holdt Weizsäcker sin store tale i Forbundsdagen, bl.a. (engelsk oversettelse fra tysk):

The perpetration of this crime was in the hands of a few people. It was concealed from the eyes of the public, but every German was able to experience what his Jewish compatriots had to suffer, ranging from plain apathy and hidden intolerance to outright hatred. Who could remain unsuspecting after the burning of the synagogues, the plundering, the stigmatization with the Star of David, the deprivation of rights, the ceaseless violation of human dignity? Whoever opened his eyes and ears and sought information could not fail to notice that Jews were being deported. The nature and scope of the destruction may have exceeded human imagination, but in reality there was, apart from the crime itself, the attempt by too many people, including those of my generation, who were young and were not involved in planning the events and carrying them out, not to take note of what was happening. There were many ways of not burdening one's conscience, of shunning responsibility, looking away, keeping mum. When the unspeakable truth of the Holocaust then became known at the end of the war, all too many of us claimed that they had not known anything about it or even suspected anything.
There is no such thing as the guilt or innocence of an entire nation. Guilt is, like innocence, not collective, but personal. There is discovered or concealed individual guilt. There is guilt which people acknowledge or deny. Everyone who directly experienced that era should today quietly ask himself about his involvement then. 
If we think of what our Eastern neighbours had to suffer during the war, we will find it easier to understand that accommodation and peaceful neighbourly relations with these
countries remain central tasks of German foreign policy.

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