It happened while he stood next to the train at Auschwitz, this moment that he would recount 50 years later. He was an accountant, keeping track of possessions as yet another cattle car full of Jews was being unloaded. He wasn’t a murderer, you understand, just a guy counting suitcases.
From one case came a faint cry. A nearby guard jerked the case open and found a tiny infant. Without hesitation he grabbed the child and slammed it against the train, killing it instantly.
Years later, telling this story at his trial, the accountant said something that has haunted me. He said, “That wasn’t nice.” And when asked what he would have done instead, he said, “I would have shot it.”
Reflect if you will… the accountant clearly differentiated between murder and barbarism. Apparently, in his mind, there were justifications for murder – orders given, national policy outlined, perhaps just plain hatred. But barbarism was in a different category; it crossed some invisible line in human behavior. It turned what he considered a rational, thinking man into a beast. It just wasn’t nice.
What say you?