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The evils our ancestors wrought

April 10, 2015

Amon Goeth, the commandant of the Kraków-Płaszów concentration camp depicted in Schindler’s List, has a black granddaughter, Jennifer Teege, who became aware of her ancestry only late in life, writing a book on that. I suspect Germans, more than Americans, recognize that evil is not propagated by blood, and in the case of political evil, often includes many collaborators with quite ordinary character. Goeth may have been psychologically deranged. Most who fought for the Germans in WW II were psychologically normal and thought they were doing the honorable thing.

As were most Confederates. The American south after the Civil War never faced up to the evil which it pursued, the way the Germans did after WW II. Which is why there is so much Lost Cause rhetoric still, accompanied by a desire to commemorate the Confederacy. There is a good argument for making April 9th, the day Lee surrendered to Grant, a national holiday on par with July 4th. Above and beyond the fact that it would piss off all the folks who spout that worn Lost Cause rhetoric. Though that may not be a bad argument in itself.

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