A Reexamination of Conscience
In trying to demythologize a catastrophic historical event such as the Holocaust, the issues of culpability and conscience often arise. Due to the incredible size and power of the Nazi regime, thousands share in the blame for the virtual extermination of European Jewry, however certain high-ranking individuals played very direct roles in carrying out Hitler?s ?final solution?. Adolf Eichmann and Franz Stangl were two men who shared that same fate, though several important distinctions can be made between them. Such distinctions become blatantly obvious in the books Eichmann in Jerusalem by Hannah Arendt and Into That Darkness, written by Gitta Sereny. The different approaches taken by Arendt and Sereny, in combination with the many diversities in character between Eichmann and Stangl, allows for two highly unique examinations of conscience in Nazi Germany.
In Arendt?s ?Report on the Banality of Evil?, she illustrates the frightening reality that it is possible, perhaps even human nature, for ordinary people to perform extraordinary acts of violence and cruelty given the right social or political circumstances. It is easy to be convinced that all members of the Nazi party were psychotic or
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