The Sense of Shame that has Scarred a Continent

Philip Stephens writes:

“It is a place where Adolf Hitler’s Nazis murdered the Jews, I heard myself saying as I answered my 11-year-old son’s question about Auschwitz. Yet even recalling that six million had died somehow understated the dreadful significance of the effort to slaughter an entire race. Who was worse, I have found myself asking during this week’s commemoration: the guards who forced fellow human beings into the gas chambers; the architects and engineers who labored mightily to design the crematoria in which the corpses were burned; or the functionaries in almost every part of the continent who never asked why as they identified neighbors to be herded on to railway cattle wagons? Is this what it means to be a European?

Few outside Hitler’s Reich were blameless. The brutal efficiency of the mass murder was built on the co-operation of politicians and bureaucrats in Paris and Amsterdam, Budapest and Rome. Britain and America kept their borders closed against many more who might have escaped the camps.”

The Sense of Shame that has Scarred a Continent

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