Written by: Michael Kravshik.
Katrin Himmler: “I was never afraid that in my genes, there is the ‘bad blood from Heinrich Himmler.’ I think that if I believed that I would be upholding the Nazi theories that everything is genetically determined.”
Ms. Himmler is Heinrich Himmler’s grandniece, and this is taken from an excellent documentary I recently watched called “Hitler’s Children” (here is a link to the site). The documentary focuses on how the progeny of the top cadre of Nazi’s have handled their family history, and is one of the better documentaries I have ever seen.
In contrast to Ms. Himmler, some of the descendants of Hermann Goering decided to sterilize themselves to ensure that they do not bring any more Goerings into the world. While such a move clearly comes from a good place, I think Ms. Himmler hit the nail on the head. And though she may be talking specifically about genetics in this quote, the documentary consistently discusses the idea of ancestors’ guilt, a topic I have previously posted on. Are these people, these ‘Children of Hitler,’ responsible for any of the wrongdoings of their ancestors? I would say no. However, many of them do feel such guilt. Although such feelings are due to an obviously good conscience, and although they may never be able to shake this guilt out of their own minds, such guilt is not theirs to bear.
At one point in the documentary, Ranier Hoess, the grandson of Rudolf Hoess speaks to a group of Israeli teenagers visiting Auschwitz. Ranier’s grandfather was the Nazi commander of the concentration camp at Auschwitz. At one point during the talk, a holocaust survivor that had come with the group of Israeli’s walks up and gives Ranier a hug. The undertone of this scene in my mind was ‘its not your fault Ranier, you are a good person regardless of your grandfathers deeds.’ An emotional scene, but also much more valuable than just giving Mr. Hoess some support. Nothing could speak more clearly to the inherent faults of ancestors’ guilt than a holocaust survivor hugging the grandson of the perpetrator of such horrible crimes, crimes that the survivor himself experienced. The survivor was not forgiving Mr. Hoess, because there was nothing to forgive. Ranier Hoess is not responsible for the misdeeds of his grandfather, and regardless of whether he can convince himself of this fact (something he seemingly hasn’t been able to do thus far), he should have a clear conscience.
Historical injustices are plentiful in the history of mankind, but only those directly responsible should bear the consequences of them. It isn’t right to hold the ancestors of the perpetrators responsible for the crimes of their forefathers. This applies whether the crime was 1000 years ago, 100 years ago, or 10 years ago. As individuals we should only bear the guilt, the responsibility and the pain of our personal actions. As Ms. Himmler so aptly put it, doing otherwise would be upholding the ideas of the Nazi’s.
This is my opinion. What’s yours?