No, I don’t mean ‘Israel is a Nazi state’, you wanker. Rather, Abiola Lapite has an extremely interesting and – unsurprisingly – disturbing post about Edwin Katzen-Ellenbogen, a German Jew who managed to be a Nazi war criminal while a prisoner in Buchenwald.
Normally, we tend to assume that people who collaborate with horrible regimes that oppress them on the grounds of their race do so because they value their own comfort and/or survival above solidarity with their co-oppressees – and society punishes collaborators chiefly to deter others from ‘cheating’ in the same way.
Mr Katzen-Ellenbogen is a different case. Despite all evidence to the contrary (chiefly, the fact that the regime he loved sent him to a concentration camp), he belived himself to be on the side of the Nazis even beyond the end of the war. It’s almost more like Stockholm syndrome… which comes dangerously close to excusing him.
Then again, even though there’s no such empirical thing as free will, there’s a strong case that we should pretend that it exists so that the co-operative aspects of society can continue to function. So perhaps Stockholm syndrome doesn’t provide a get-out clause after all.