1 October 2021

Lethal Typists

What a jolly story in today's news, the one about the 'feisty' [nowadays, a must-have word for every right-thinking woman] little old German lady in her late nineties who legged it from her care home just hours before the scheduled beginning of her trial in North Germany. She is charged with having, as an eighteen-year-old, worked in the admin department of an extermination camp.

Herr von Plod did catch up with her. I wonder whither she was heading ... to that much-storied Last Nazi Redoubt somewhere in the Alps, perhaps?

Perhaps they will confiscate her zimmer-frame to ensure that she now faces justice without further mishap. Her escapade, of course, ensures that her trial will receive more coverage than might otherwise have been the case.

Personally, I believe that the Shoah was such a horrible act of monstrous evil that even a typist who merely made up the lists should have to answer for her conduct. However aged she is. 

Every single Jew who was exterminated deserves at least this modest expiation.

Just as I like to hope that, be it ever so long after my own death, the nice young ladies who with elegant efficiency confect the Operating Rotas in our fine modern British Abortion Clinics will be given the opportunity to explain themselves.


pdm said...

I take a different view. In the public discourse of the modern West, the holocaust is talked about as if it were the evil to end all evils; something from which we have moved on, and from which (in post-war liberal terms) the 'Open Society' will protect us henceforth. This in fact blinds us to the genocides in our midst; it embodies a modernist world-view according to which the human capacity for evil is a thing slowly to be eliminated, along with 'inequality'.

I'd say that the pursuit of extremely old participants reinforces this narrative. It's frankly distasteful; two wrongs do not make a right. We should certainly always remember the holocaust, but let's not present it as an aberration which we now know better than to do again; let's stop fixating on an event in which almost all participants are now dead, *precisely in order that* we might start to acknowledge men's ongoing capacity for, and commission of, grave systemic industrial-scale evils. Sorry if that sounds a bit harsh.

Fr John Hunwicke said...

By linking this story with the modern massacres of unborn children, I rather thought I was making exactly the point suggested by pdm.

pdm said...

Ah, sorry father! I did wonder whether that was indeed your point. But perhaps we do differ slightly on whether the police should still be pursuing extremely elderly participants in the holocaust. I can't see that it is in what prosecutors call the 'public interest' for the police to do so; nor can I see that condign legal punishment for people who are so old can do much good for their souls. Besides, we have more dangerous people to catch. In pursuing feeble unthreatening 90-year-olds we are really pursuing the Popperian liberals' abstract bogeyman of the 'Fascist mindset'--a term they of course stretch to fit any world-view with a traditional and thick metaphysics behind it--; that's why I find it distasteful. You seem to disagree. But it's perhaps not the most important point, anyway: I'm sure we're thinking along broadly the same lines!

Please don't feel you have to publish this if you think we are getting off the topic; I just thought I owed you a reply.

Christopher Boegel said...

Fr. H scored the goal in this exchange.

Greyman 82 said...

Interesting post, Father Hunwicke. I particularly liked your use of the word "Shoah" instead of the ubiquitous and unsuitable "holocaust". A holocaust was a full burnt offering, an act of great piety offered to God. The Nazi mass-murder of millions, mainly of Jews, but also of many others that they considered undesirable, was in no sense an act of pious devotion to Almighty God.

PM said...

One of the high points of Benedict XVI's magnificent legacy is the reflection he gave on his visit to Auschwitz. It repays careful reading.

Vasa said...

Thanks for sharing this! I’m delighted with this information, where such important moments are captured. All the best!

Banshee said...

If this person had lived a life of expiation and reparation, one might feel this was too much. For example, the old German lady in Daktari who was in recent years revealed to have been a Nazi. She spent the rest of her life serving Africans as a physician, without pay, to make up for persecuting untermenschen when young. She sentenced herself and paid her dues herself, and did not want praise for it.

But a secretary or clerk in a concentration camp would necessarily know a great deal about what was going on. And this woman did not turn herself in, back in the day, so presumably she wasn't repentant, either.

pdm said...

Perhaps Banshee is right. I am trying to think now what I would think if the police were to arrest a frail ninety-year-old on suspicion of direct murder. I suppose I would probably think such an action to be just.