legendary nurenberg prosecutor, mr. ben ferencz, recently passed away at the age of 103. a news report told of mr. ferencz’ experience at a concentration camp that was being liberated. this was the experience upon which he learned that vengeance was never the answer.
he told of concentration camp prisoners, days after their liberation, captured a ss guard.
he recounted that “not all of the inmates were helpless…they caught one of the guards and they beat him with their fists. somebody brought from the crematorium one of the trays used to shovel people into the furnace. they tied him to it and put him in the oven, just enough to warm him up…then they pulled him out again, beat him up again, put him in again, burned him up again–about two or three times until he was well cooked.” dailymail.com he reported that “it was a horrible experience to watch this. but i didn’t dare try to stop it because they would have turned on me.” dailymail.com
was mr. ferencz’ account of the incident one of victim shaming?
at that moment, one must wonder whether mr. ferencz appreciated the treatment that the inmates received during their internment? was it likely that they were tortured in both cruel and sadistic manners? did he appreciate that the inmates’ behavior may have been merely what they learned from the guards? did he question whether these inmates, absent the concentration camp experience, would have conducted their lives in such a horrific manner?
mr. ferencz, a man of diminished height, stood there and watched justice exacted in brutal fashion. mr. ferencz, and others present, could have have fired a shot in the air, a shofar blast to the broken souls, to obtain some semblance and awaken some morality. yet. he didn’t. thus, in his telling of the incident, it was more convenient for mr. ferencz to heap the blame on the victims.
in modern times, the terms criminal and victim are often blurred. many times we see that compassion is for the oppressors with derision is left for the true victims.
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