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Feeling Guilty if you Haven’t Done Anything Wrong – “Eichmann in Jerusalem” – Hannah Arendt

April 27th, 2011 · No Comments · Genocide, History, Morality, Philosophy, Quotes, WW2

It is quite gratifying to feel guilty if you haven’t done anything wrong: how noble! Whereas it is rather hard and certainly depressing to admit guilt and to repent. The youth of Germany is surrounded, on all sides and in all walks of life, by men in positions of authority and in public office who are very guilty indeed but who feel nothing of the sort. The normal reaction to this state of affairs should be indignation, but indignation would be quite risky—not a danger to life and limb but definitely a handicap in a career. Those young German men and women who every once in a while—on the occasion of all the Diary of Anne Frank hubbub and of the Eichmann trial—treat us to hysterical outbreaks of guilt feelings are not staggering under the burden of the past, their fathers’ guilt; rather, they are trying to escape from the pressure of very present and actual problems into a cheap sentimentality.)

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