Human history is full of various dark spots. Contemporary people often contemplate events which took place years ago. These people often argue that all those horrors could never have happened if people had been wiser. However, these very ‘thinkers’ do not understand that their ‘right paths’ are far from being realistic.
Of course, there are many who understand that what is done cannot be undone, and what has been done could not have been done in any other way. Many understand that history cannot be ‘judged’ as there can be no right and wrong. Primo Levi (2000) stresses that there is no line between the good and the bad, and there are no two camps. Hannah Arendt (2000) and Primo Levi (2000) provide bright examples which confirm that such viewpoints are right.
Arendt (2000) reveals the story of a man who made a lot of controversial deeds in his life. However, it is possible to note that the author presents the story in a one-sided manner. Eichmann is depicted as a silly man who was in position which let him send thousands of people to death.
Sometimes the author does reveal positive aspects of Eichmann’s character and deeds. For instance, it is stated that he did a lot to help Jews leave the Nazi country when it was possible. However, the general tone of the writing is judgemental. Clearly, the author does not believe the man was forced to act in the way he did. Nonetheless, no one can judge a person if he/she was not there, in that person’s shoes.
Levi (2000) provides other insights in a similar discussion. The author notes that even such negative figure as Chaim Rumkowski was not to be judged. Levi states that the man did a lot of horrible things, but he also did some good things. More importantly, Levi claims that it is unclear what contemporary “judges” would do should they be put in the same position. The author stresses that people who were in concentration camps (both inmates and guards) were gradually losing their best qualities.
It is important to note that Levi’s position should be exploited when analysing historical events. It is crucial to take into account all details. It is essential to avoid any judgment. Clearly, Arendt’s method is wrongful as it can lead to mere distortion of facts. Notably, this judgemental method has been often used throughout people’s history.
Ironically, the Nazis made use of it as well. This one-sided presentation of facts becomes a part of ideology and propaganda. People have witnessed what propaganda can do as such leaders as Hitler and Stalin exploited these means extensively. Of course, people have no right to make the same mistake and focus on one side of the matter.
Besides, it is necessary to remember that even the “judges” cannot be sure they would not have done the same if they had found themselves in similar conditions. Obviously, Eichmann did not wake up one morning to accept the fact he was to send thousands of people to die. He was rather a victim of circumstances.
To sum up, people should learn their lesson while analysing the darkest events in the history of humanity. It is important to take into account all possible details and listen to all parties involved. The truth can be quite unpleasant, but people still should know the truth about themselves to try to avoid conditions which make people do horrible and inhumane things.
Arendt, H. (2000). The portable Hannah Arendt. P. Baehr (Ed.). New York, NY: Penguin Books.
Levi, P. (2000). The gray zone. In O. Bartov (Ed.), The holocaust: Origins, implementation, aftermath (pp. 251-273). New York, NY: Routledge.