Friday, March 20, 2009

Chapter 6, The Age of Denial

“All in all, the picture that emerges of the average mass killer in the middle and lower echelons [of the extermination camps] is that of a man from the respectable middle classes, reasonably well educated, quite decent, moral, and law –abiding in his personal life, a good family man, but thoroughly indoctrinated, systematically hardened against any feelings of pity for the “inferior races… He could spend the day killing thousands of helpless people and (as a character witness in German court trial testified) could still be “a man with a sense for everything good and beautiful…,” or he could be an SS officer “who, after a hard day’s work at the gas chambers, relaxes by playing the violin.” This may essentially be what Hannah Arendt meant by ‘the banality of evil.’”