Good riddance to bad rubbish


  1. #1 Amy Alkon
    February 18, 2007

    His “I was just a civil servant doing my job” excuse I read elsewhere was chilling. I’m reminded of Hannah Arendt’s term, “the banality of evil.”

  2. #2 Justin Moretti
    February 19, 2007

    It’s not so much that he was “only a civil servant doing (his) job”. I can accept that as an organ of a puppet government of the Nazis, he possibly had no idea, at least until it was too late, of where the Jews he deported were winding up.

    What I can’t forgive him for is that there seems no trace, since the war, of: “Oh Holy Christ, is that where I sent them?” When you’ve been an inadvertent (or involuntary) party to genocide, the least you can do is show a degree of remorse for the consequences of your blunder (however unintentional).

  3. #3 Amy Alkon
    February 19, 2007

    I didn’t say that explicitly, but that’s part of my horror. I’m terrified of hitting a person while driving my car — hurting or killing somebody. If I’d helped cause the death of thousands upon thousands of people — even if I had no idea (which is hard to imagine) — I think I would devote my life to making up for what I’d done, as well as being enormously remorseful.

  4. #4 Orac
    February 19, 2007

    I don’t buy the “I didn’t know where the Jews were being deported to” defense. By 1944, it was common knowledge that, when Jews were sent East, they never came back. At the very least people knew it was concentration camps, but many knew that Jews were being killed. As a high-ranking civil servant in the Vichy regime, he’d have to have been utterly clueless not to know where the Jews he was complicit in deporting were being sent.

  5. #5 manfred
    February 19, 2007

    It is worth emphasising that PAPON was IN HIS LATE EIGHTIES when he was convicted for something he allegedly did over half a century (!) ago. He also was obviously in poor health, unsurprisingly so given his advanced age. Yet despite of all this he was dragged before a court…
    Reminds me of former Chilenean president PINOCHET, terminally ill, yet harrassed by justice officials to his dying breath… Another case that comes to mind is the recently deceased Austrian Dr. Heinrich GROSS, who allegedly was involved in the Nazi euthanasia programme. After the war he became a renown forensic psychiatrist and testified regularly as expert witness in court. He suffered from dementia in the years prior to his death, yet they tried to press criminal charges against him for what he allegedly did during the war, decades ago…
    No mercy, no forgiveness, a true travesty of justice!

  6. #6 bwv
    February 19, 2007

    On a similar note, the neoconfederate, kinist (i.e. racist) and rabidly anti-semtic website Little Geneva has vanished after a blogger identified the workplace of Harry Seabrook (he would be in violation of the diversity code there apparently).

    The full story is at:

  7. #7 Justin Moretti
    February 23, 2007

    I don’t buy the “I didn’t know where the Jews were being deported to” defense.

    Neither do I, I must admit. Not where, certainly; everybody knew WHERE they were going. I’m still not sure that any civilians except Nazis at the highest level KNEW as an absolute truth that deliberate mass exterminations were being carried out (as opposed to not giving a damn if the undernourished inmates died from overwork).

    Arthur C Clarke’s biography quotes one of the German rocket scientists as saying “I didn’t know [that the Jews were being exterminated], but I suspected it, and in my position I could have found out. I didn’t, and I despise myself for it.” This is a trusted German with very close links to the Reich’s most closely guarded secrets, lots of influence, and in the military’s good graces. That’s what makes me think that this Frenchman could have claimed at least partial ignorance. Then, not since. As I’ve said, what offends me most is that even if he DID have the legitimate excuse of ignorance at the time, he seems not to have shown the slightest remorse or horror when confronted with the facts.

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