Prosecuting Nazi War Criminals

Prosecuting Nazi War Criminals

Prosecuting Nazi War Criminals

Prosecuting Nazi War Criminals

Synopsis

"It has been nearly fifty years since the collapse of the Nazi regime; is there any longer a point to pressing for the apprehension and prosecution of surviving Nazi war criminals?" "In this carefully argued book, Alan Rosenbaum makes it clear that there is. He contends that apart from the concerns about obligations to the dead or vengeance against the living, we must continue to pursue the prosecutorial agenda as an investment in the moral climate in which we wish to live. To fail to do so would be to fail in our commitment to a society safe for ethnic, cultural, and religious diversity. Demonstrating that the crucial arguments apply well beyond the specific concern about war criminals, Rosenbaum looks at other current issues, including the treatment of hate groups and hate speech and the reconstruction of a Christian theology without anti-semitism. This book is an important contribution to Jewish and Holocaust studies; to political, social, and legal thought; and to moral theory." Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Excerpt

In this book I propose to defend the thesis that the continuation of earnest efforts at prosecuting fugitive Nazi war criminals is an urgent moral imperative. The main reason for the assertion of a moral necessity behind my thesis is the indefeasible connection existing between the discharge of such an obligation and respect for basic moral values and principles of justice, social order, and democracy. A failure to fulfill this obligation by permitting the Nazi offenders to evade justice will be shown to violate the values and principles that bring an ideal standard and meaning to our lives as morally autonomous social beings. There is a supervening affirmative duty to prosecute the doers of serious offenses that falls on those who are empowered to do so on behalf of a civilized community. This duty corresponds to our fundamental rights as citizens and as persons to receive and give respect to each other in view of our possession of such rights. Dealing seriously with rights (and values and principles), i.e., fulfilling duties to others, entails dealing seriously with rights violations. As I will explore throughout this book, it is clearly a flouting of such a basic obligation to fail to bring Nazi persecutors to justice, especially by allowing rebuttable considerations like time and resource expenditures, and the dying off of remaining Nazi war criminals (and their surviving victims), to influence whether or not they get prosecuted.

Indeed, the urgency for pressing the case for prosecution, though secondary to the main argument, I believe springs from two sources. First, the population of surviving fugitives from justice is diminishing rapidly, and soon all the perpetrators as well as their surviving victims will perish by natural attrition. After all, it has been almost a half century since the commission of the Nazi crimes. Second, the unique evil of the Holocaust compels the political and judicial authorities in our generation to confront in a high-minded manner the question that future generations will ask about the rectitude of our generation's response: Did we do what was necessary to bring to justice those who committed the Nazi atrocities?

As the immediate poignancy of the Holocaust recedes into historical perspective, the growth of the postwar generations overwhelms the . . .

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