patent l'inhuman

Patenting the inhuman

Patenting the inhuman. It is the human being who takes the initiative, today, yesterday and the day before yesterday. Today, the Islamic state uses the most sophisticated information techniques to recruit idle, senseless young people to commit atrocities. Playing ball with decapitated heads, crucifying, isn't it enjoyable and worthy of being broadcast? Here, there is no patent application, but a right of use that is worthy of acquisition. The internet has its good points: it shows the horrible to frighten or captivate. The abnormal becomes normal. Chemical gases are ravaging the Middle East. Fools on both sides of the conflict are burning them with all kinds of firewood. Weapons of mass destruction are proving, in their hands, their effectiveness. Other images are similarly shown or fabricated by those involved. Some are even marketed by the foreign media. Piles of corpses are littering the ground. Bodies are mutilated. Cities are devastated. Beyond the images, any desire for life is annihilated by fanaticism. Any hint of freedom is crushed by tyranny.
Yesterday, thousands of machetes were sold in Rwanda to massacre a particular group. The manufacturer and the seller must have known about it, but they acted as if nothing had happened. In the 1960s, Vietnam and Laos were bombed with orange gas, the patent for which was legally protected by a private company that saw it as a profit-making opportunity. Ah, to make butter on man, what a beautiful original idea that had so deserved the protection of the law! Under the bombs, the millions of unborn children didn't matter. Crippled parents, who didn't care. They were all broken for life. The shareholders of the company went to the temple in good conscience. No victims were compensated. Why repair the scrap?
The day before yesterday, other private enterprises had dared to respond to the public contracts of the Hitlerian state, which wanted to increase the productivity of gas chambers and crematoriums. The specifications were clear: to eliminate, in a short time and at the lowest cost, entire populations that had previously been beaten, insulted and humiliated. What a strange paradox! At the controls, the so-called superhumans turned out to be subhumans. By behaving like criminals in the last degree, their mass crimes forever amputated their humanity more than they hurt the humanity of "the other.
Progress is a notion that is hardly perceptible in the short term, even if one must admit a certain advance over the centuries (end of the Inquisition, with its hooded processions and pious instruments of torture, perverse and refined; institutionalization of theHabeas corpus, of the jury, separation of powers and constitutionality review). Public law has succeeded, in part, in cushioning the cycle, but it continues to have feverish followers. The pleasure of killing, of massacring, of tearing the human being apart, of hearing him scream, prevails in all these lunatics over the minimum of serenity. Alas, there will always be industrialists and States to satisfy their senseless demand. History hardly ceases to be the place of a macabre exchange. Ah! Will the cycle of legalized violence not stop?
Illustration: Elisa Perrigueur

From Erfurt to Auschwitz

Erfurt, in the former GDR. After reunification, the city decided to preserve the memory of Topf und Söhne who built crematory ovens during World War II. The majority of the aldermen were divided. The town hall wanted to raze the factory to the ground. Votes were raised to turn part of it into a museum. The city restored the administration building, in an instructive and discreet manner. An act of courage and intelligence. The past regained meaning.
In the building, one opens one's eyes and feels disgust. A film shows the factory staff marching in 1937. Nazi banner at the head. Workers, foremen, managers almost dressed in suits. They walk past some members of the special forces who stare at them with outstretched arms. with of the new Kaiser, Hitler's salvation, has spread. The employees look satisfied. Some are smiling. One man hides his face in front of the camera. An unexpected, almost fatal gesture. Shame doesn't kill one's fellow workers.
In the rooms, we discover a jumble of letters between the factory managers and the SS. In the showcase, drawings and models and patent applications. The top floor offers a beautiful view. The neighbouring town of Weimar, near which Buchenwald is situated, can be seen. Engineers and technicians contemplated one of the concentration camps that benefited from their industrial know-how.
Pietà, Mariendom Erfürt, circa 1350
In the heart of Erfurt stands the cathedral. The roofs are sloping, the spires slender. In the church, the faithful gather in front of a sculpture. A pietà of the 14th century. The virgin is holding a very emaciated Christ in her arms. The artist represented the stigmata of human history. In Bach's church in Leipzig (100 km from Erfurt), the parishioners heard the same story. The cantata BWV 199 expressed how deeply man has destroyed himself:
Mein Herze schwimmt im Blut,
weil mich der Sünden Brut
in Gottes heiligen Augen
zum Ungeheuer macht.
Und mein Gewissen fühlet Pein,
weil mir die Sünden nichts
als Höllenhenker sein.   
My heart is bathed in blood
because the seed of sin
made me a monster.
In the eyes of God.
And my conscience is in torment
and my sins
are the executioners.
The Auschwitz camp in Poland. The extermination of others was a profession. The staff... of Topf und Söhne coming and going. One team would set up the ovens, another would fix them. The same team or another team would perfect them. Nowadays, they don't operate there anymore, but it's a tough visit. In the silence, thousands of shaved hairs, thousands of odd shoes, thousands of adults' and children's clothes. In an adjoining room, the heaps continue to pile up. Thousands of prostheses. Thousands of spectacles. Disabled and maimed were given special treatment. A weakness was a flaw that accelerated your fate. The man was classified as Jewish, Gypsy, Slavic, homosexual, asocial, degenerate. Categorization preceded degradation, and degradation preceded death. The surrounding countryside was silent, ready to bury you. A common calm, much less serene than that felt by Goethe in Über allen Gipfeln (1).  A stone's throw away is Birkenau, a larger-scale Auschwitz. The deportees went down there, believing they had finished their sentences. After being crammed day and night into freight or cattle cars, a welcoming committee of SS men, impeccably dressed, beat them and shouted their hatred. Families were brutally separated. Men and women were lined up, inspected, sorted.
What can we learn from Auschwitz and Birkenau? Stupid slogans that are meant to be funny, but do not even make the audience laugh at the theatre's farces. At the entrance, Arbeit macht frei (work makes free), in the barracks: Sei ehrlich (Be honest.) Sauberkeit ist Gesundheit (cleanliness is health). In trying to think, the executioner had lost what little he had left.

The appropriation of horror

In Erfurt, we are applied (tüchtig), but in the wrong way. We work without a care in the world, in white coats, on drawing boards. A photograph of the time shows the industrious atmosphere. The official order for crematory ovens for the cremation of large numbers of human corpses has to be met. The demand is not surprising. In a country in the process of Nazification, there is no room for the why. (Hier ist kein warum). The only eligible question Wievel Stück? - How many rooms? of deportees per wagon (2) ?
Topf und Söhne has a good reputation. Since the beginning of the 20th century, the company has been able to respond to the desire for individual cremation. The Christian churches opposed it (the pyre was reserved for living heretics who had self-incriminated under torture). The German law of 1934 laid down hygienic conditions relating to odour, smoke and noise. The law requires respect for the body and the ashes (the body is identified, the ashes are collected, the urns are sealed). This is referred to as "Dignity" (3). Such specifications are no longer imposed on populations designated for public vindictiveness. Bodies must be burned as animal carcasses must be cremated. The technical challenges are of the same order: with the incessant influx of patches in the concentration camps, provision has been made for their gassing, but solving the problem creates another one: facilities must be provided for continuous and large-scale combustion. With such a volume, ventilation will eventually become difficult. Don't panic: A Topf und Söhne, we know how to do it! We'll provide the appropriate expertise...
These are engineering issues that teach how to handle things efficiently. As a measure of engineering achievement, consider the waste products of the food industry. Animal husbandry has now reached an advanced stage. Pigs, cattle, poultry, all are cramped, without air or light, wading through their manure. The number of animals that can no longer stand upright before being taken to the slaughterhouse is staggering. The rendering of corpses requires a lot of incinerators oriented in the direction of the prevailing winds. The smell of burnt carcasses should not disturb the neighbourhood. Unbearable analogy? The philosopher Heidegger dared it after the war. - Oh! It's awful! Technology has supplanted contemplation. Things are seen only in functional terms. But this return to resignation of the thinker-poet, nestled in the Black Forest, was problematic. Technology itself had been supplanted under Nazism. Was it worth wasting so much money and energy on slaughtering millions of innocent people? Was it useful to massacre educated and creative brains that could have served the country with dedication as in 1914-1918? (4)
Topf und Söhne innovate. It doubles and triples the muffles of the crematory ovens. It speeds up the incineration process. It extends its intervention upstream by improving the diffusion of Zyklon B in the gas chambers. (5).  The human material to be treated had been underestimated. The Nazis are overwhelmed. The Wansee Conference, which in 1942 programmed the Final Solution, sinned out of optimism. The adaptations of Topf und Söhne, that used to work wonders are no longer enough. Lack of availability, we gas badly or barely, we burn dead and dying in a jumble... (6).
Suppliers and customers were not up to the task, but at Topf und Söhne, we're still proud of the work we've done. We filed a patent in 1942. The registration is unofficial (business secrecy obliges). The law is the law. Dura lex sed lex. There's no reason to prevaricate. The filing of the patent does not respond to the sole motive of profit. We are not in the United States, obsessed with making copyright work for profit. Duty comes first. Always happy to hear from you. serve (Stets gern für Sie beschäftigt) is the motto of the house. The sentence adorns the pediment of the remaining building. The appropriation of the horror is not shocking: on the drawing boards appears the logo Isis. Throughout the ages, the Egyptian goddess has offered her protection to inventors who improve the lot of humanity. A perfectly normal company (7).

Private and public law

Either Arendt's thesis (8) : Eichmann was a dull civil servant. Like so many others at various levels, he was part of a vast machine that was beyond him. Banality of evil. A cog in a wheel that multiplied force a hundredfold without everyone feeling at the centre. The thesis, which supports that of totalitarianism, leads to inconsequences. Simple pawns would have bombarded the surrounding countries without thinking. They would have felt no passion to destroy cities and families, to spread desolation everywhere. They would have remained of marble. Orders are orders (Befehl sind Befehl). Apparent placidity. Fury dominated the bearers of order and secrecy. At the Nuremberg Tribunal sitting at the end of the war, blind obedience would not be an excuse. In the criminal law of nations, the execution of a senseless order makes the action an accomplice. And what about the joy of carrying it out... (9)
The Aryan population will realize too late that the war epic will go wrong. The desire for eternal glory will turn to madness. The worm was in the fruit: from the outset, the non-Aryan population had had a foretaste of the worst: public humiliation, pack hunting and beatings, shops closed and destroyed, places of prayer set on fire, immediate dismissal from state institutions, expulsion from school and university, whose access was becoming forbidden, the panoply could only grow wider. One did not have to be a great cleric to predict this, except to allow oneself to be overcome by denial. Everyone could sense it, but they did not want to know. Until the end of the war, and even afterwards, many proved themselves capable of deliberate omission (10)  - What did you want to do? Brutal force held the street. Power was even tampering with the laws!
The trades of commerce and industry differed from administration. There was no compulsion to place orders, sign contracts, register patents. There was competition between companies in the new market for crematoria for the camps.. Topf und Söhne wasn't the only one who went in, but she was free not to go in. In private law, individual sovereignty continued to be exercised. Visiting Auschwitz, one learns that many entrepreneurs exercised it without restraint. Bayer collected on his letterhead the observations of Nazi doctors conducting human experimentation. Siemens over-selected and over-exploited the deportees' labour force. Another firm negotiated the price and quantity of hair from the skulls that had been shaved. Another transformed the ashes into fertilizer. Everything was good to take. The state rewarded this willingness to participate in the national effort by granting them other markets. Topf und Söhne increased its turnover. Many trademarks inflated their reputation: Hugo Bosswho designed the SS uniforms using forced labour; the car manufacturer BMW, who profited from the Aryanization of the enterprises and employed 50,000 inmates of a labor camp; Deutsche Bankwhich financed the Gestapo and provided funds to build Auschwitz... (11).
Even in public law, the civil servant was not forced to obey blindly. Unbeknownst to the administrators, autonomy subsisted. Under Hitler's rule, a few men in the offices were slow to carry out orders, interpreted them restrictively, disobeyed them. Public liberty was locked, but the individual infiltrated by degrees, from civil disobedience to active resistance. Some judges refused to judge without deliberation. Others resigned, but most of those who remained on the bench sentenced on the fly. Justice, which had to be exercised blindfolded, had closed them. There were no preparatory instructions before the hearings. The qualifications were ridiculous (sexual relations between races). While crimes of state remained unpunished (murders, sterilization of their fellow citizens), even the judges did not dare to act outside the will of their superiors. They did not bow their heads but raised them up to deliver death sentences. The share of responsibility to be discharged was not that of the accused but their own. Inquisitors, they had become guilty by breach of justice. They committed iniquity in the name of the law. (12).
Among the defeated countries, France thought it would get away with it. Some of its elites, displaced to Vichy, made people believe that sovereignty remained while the nation lost at the exchange rate. In this game of dupes, there were anti-German Vichyssois, but the new government, by collaborating, worked for the occupier. Like those of Nuremberg, anti-Jewish laws were promulgated, but Pétain made them stricter by his own hand. (13). In accordance with the hierarchy of norms, senior officials drafted the decrees excluding non-native French citizens. Their style was luminous and precise. University professors commented on these regulations as if their purpose, violating public order, did not matter. The form alone made sense! With the same indifference, but with no restraint, the police handed over children under the age of 16 to the foreign authority, just as they had previously handed over German emigrants. (14). A fine division of labour: the jurisconsults whitewashed the infamy, the forces of law and order contributed to the cleansing, and the militia, to complete the cleansing, extirpated, with mafia violence, all opposition.
In the population there were many righteous people who circumvented the laws that became unjust. Modest people, peasants, entire communities, saved Jews and others who were banished from society. This attitude did not hinder economic collaboration. We are no longer in 1914, when Renault produced in large numbers the taxis that carried French soldiers to the Marne front. Renault now produces for the enemy. This automobile company will be nationalized at the Liberation as a symbol, but like it, the majority of the companies delivered civil and military equipment to the German army without hesitation. Their good will was rewarded with assured orders. Whether the country was occupied or not, private law ignored the smell of money. Fascism was better than socialism.

Inhuman too human

Nazi Germany intended to establish its absolute domination over peoples and individuals reduced to servitude. A whole law of inhumanity was put in place:
- a right of ownership of the stolen goods for the benefit of the robbers and the widespread looting (dixit Goering) (15) ;
- an industrial property right, granting (with the jury's congratulations) the title of patent to techniques reducing humanity to crushed and ground stone ;
- an intellectual property right, guaranteeing copyright and economic rights on such insane and indigestible works as Mein Kampf. Hitler will get rich by imposing his book in the Germanic world. On the outside, the translation rights will inflate the royalties. Heidegger's work was less destitute and obsessive. It was better written, but like the Führer, its author preferred abstract nouns to verbs. His being (Da-sein, openness-for-Being) reproached philosophy for having forgotten the Being, but he himself forgot the human presence in every damaged man. His ontology, blind to all morality, excused crimes of inhumanity. What crimes are you talking about if there is no more humanity? Where is the fault? When the state erases all proper names, the name becomes common. There's a number, a serial number, tattooed on the skin, from a very young age. There's of Non-Being.
It's true, we made mistakes," admits Himmler, the head of the SS. "In 1941, we did not give the human masses the value we give them today, that of raw materials and labour. » (16)  Since then, we have been able to seize the slightest human shadow in the service of the Reich! We have been able to lie to the deported populations to make them believe that they were going to be treated well (we pushed the ploy to sell train tickets to Auschwitz). You see, we are able to recognize the human in the inhuman. We are not content to just handle cattle. We have shown the world our disrespect. Any proof? "An SS man rode by on a bicycle and kicked an old woman. She gave a heart-rending scream. "The SS, having a passion for his wolfhound, gave his daily sugar in front of us. He loudly released a "gas" in the face of the one of us who was in charge of taking off his boots. He sneered, "Danke, Herr Professor! ». A poor guy [who thought that sniggering could raise him up!]" (17)
In human recognition, we've done better: we've tortured. In conquered territory and in the death camps, we redoubled our blows when we saw the fear and pain around us. We must find the experience in the present tense to understand our intoxication. Gestapo,
We put things under the fingernails of the accused to get them to confess, we interrogate them for 11 hours in a row, and then we put them "at rest" under the supervision of a huge police dog. The animal is ready to jump down your throat if you pretend to take its handkerchief out of its pocket (18).
Clearly, under tyranny, whether Nazi or communist (the Stalinist camps served as a model at the time), we like what is canine. Dogs, bred to be mean, are the perfect helpers. They never stop barking, showing their teeth, shredding deportees who rebel or fall exhausted. If the prisoners had been nothing but inanimate matter, we, the SS, would never have imagined that their torment would last to the end. We made them stand without food or drink, barely breathing in tiny cells. The aristocracy of evil that we formed would not have gouged out the eyes of some or thrown others into latrines (what fun would we have had throwing things away?). To come, you need an answer! This is the genius of our Führer: he allowed us to indulge in "...the most atrocious actions, the most hideous spectacles. In this way, [he] was fully assured of [our] obedience and zeal"! (19)
Using perversion is a way to assert one's authority and intimidate society. Are the opportunists jumping into the breach? They can rest assured that we'll know how to exploit them. On the other hand, beware of the Germans who don't cheer our supreme guide! They may be too human material. If they escape from Dachau the privilege of being hung from butcher's fangs, they will be forced to "lick the food off the floor", as one of them, who has been in detention for twelve years, testified. (20).  In reality, there is little difference between these exiles from within and those from without. We make a case for all deportees. We, vicious as the devil, pushed them to participate in evil! What moments of mad laughter we had when we saw them steal a bit of food, a bowl to collect it, a rag to keep warm, a mismatched hoof to walk on. We pushed the vice to teach a minority to beat the majority of theirs with repeated blows. We hardened them to the point that they no longer reacted to the bodies of their fellow miserable people eaten by rats. (21).
Dehumanized and underdogged. Here's a promotion! before they're eliminated, because l'untermensch will never be able to reach the heights of the über-mensch (the over-man...).

Socrates' morality revisited

"What is a man?" Hamlet request (22). The propagandists of the Hitlerian regime, who never ceased to demean their own humanity by lowering that of others, never had this question on their minds. "Persecutors and slanderers, they were the prisoners."locked in a double lockup. "in their lies and crimes." (23). As much as they struggled to extinguish the "inner freedom" of their victims, they had managed to trample theirs with the cadence of a soldier's pace. They managed to eliminate within themselves this intimate part, "the most precious of all. They had not understood that the affirmation of freedom does not consist in doing evil, but in doing good. They thought they were more creative at doing good by being in the grip of a mental conspiracy. 
How could "these men let themselves be dumbfounded, despiriualized", to the point of "being nothing more than brainless automatons, with at most the reactions of 5-year-olds? ». " They are intoxicated; they don't think; they have no critical faculties: 'The Führer thinks for us.' Their minds, defiled, had fallen into repetition and sadism. "Their bravery is now little more than an animal instinct, the instinct of the beast. They act with the exaltation of the fanatics. They no longer possess anything of the nobility of a human being. » (24)
These men took away Europe's joie de vivre and shattered the fate of so many lives that would have flourished. They believed that their family life would escape their barbarity. The SS commander at Auschwitz said that his wife and children had never been happier in their private home next to the camp. Hitler mourned the death of his mother. Films show him caressing his German shepherd, patting the cheeks of young recruits. How naive! All these actors have forgotten the cries of the Greek tragedy. A crime ends up leaving its mark on three generations. Their offspring will not escape the uneasiness, the guilt, the public scorn.
They perished, alas! Ignominiously!
Weary ! Weary ! Alas ! Alas ! [...]
Here we are struck - with what eternal distress!
Here we are struck - it is all too clear.(25)
Moral of the West? No, not really. According to Buddha, the karma is the result of our actions. Our conduct, our thoughts, our words, have been deposited in a current of consciousness that has not taken everything away. Oblivion? On the surface, because deep down inside, the soul is eaten away by acid. But, it will be objected, criminals get away with it. They parade around with medals and riches. They gorge themselves on the pleasures of the world. A serial killera genocidaire, rarely has the mouth of employment, before or after his exploits. He is sometimes handsome or pleasant, but his appearance hides a Iago or a Macbeth. Like Richard III, he has the art of deceiving his world when he does evil on principle. The uniform he wears betrays him. He's playing a role that he's not fooled by, either. Alas, he moans backstage, My soul is foul!  Ah, my inner being is full of discordance! (26)
The will to power has reversed the human order. Its energy has unsealed the values. Doctors no longer heal, but mutilate. in vivo children and adults. They sign prescriptions, not to cure, but to hasten death. Lawyers no longer defend difficult cases. Members of the bar run concentration camps. All the liberal professions have forgotten their ethics. Why do less than the laws that encourage crime? Society is regressing to the state of nature. Contracts are becoming contrary to the public order of the Republic. Commercial activity no longer meets the minimum business code.
"What a spiritual shipwreck," exclaimed Primo Levi. He who relives the events hallucinates as in the past. He hears the Trio of Spirits of Beethoven transcribing the music of Macbeth's witches announcing the decay of man by himself. Whoever visits the cursed remains shudders. He becomes a visionary himself, like the German Jewish poet Heinrich Heine:
[Thunder] rolls slowly, but it's coming. When you hear a creak like you've never heard before, you'll know it's coming. [You will witness] a drama in comparison to which the French Revolution will have been but one... [Sturm und Drang] idyllic. (27)
The French Revolution had freed man from despotism. Terror had brought him down to worse. Nazism will multiply its deleterious effects ad infinitum. In a frenzy, man turned the gun on himself, denying all reason and delicacy in others. He overreacted against the Judeo-Christian morality which advocated love but overvalued pity. Good intention produced the opposite: thealter ego was devalued, placed under theego. Compassion broke the equality between men. The other one became just a victim. Nietzsche castigated a morality that plays into the hands of slaves who manipulate the strong through sentiment. It's time to return to Bacchus. Let's drink to the health of the superman ! This expression would have been misinterpreted as Superman. Maybe, but it was more like going back to Socrates. To suffer injustice is better than to commit it. Few have understood this ancient paradoxical adage (28).
In Athens, the citizen committed the crime of...ubris (ύβρίς) if he outrageously beat his slave. But wasn't this one part of his heritage? Wasn't the owner free to violate it as he pleased? No, he was not. A master must be master of himself. He could not be subject to an extreme passion that would distort his humanity. The honor of his condition forbids him to misbehave. If one must choose: it is better to tolerate a theft than to steal from one's neighbor. Humour is a better remedy. "He who smiles while being robbed, steals something from his robber himself", said Shakespeare. He learns, through the ordeal, how important it is to take one's attachments lightly and not to make it a personal matter. Concern for the soul is more important. But is a crime any more serious? Certainly, but it is better to endure a deep sorrow than to inflict one. The psychological cost is less. In taking revenge, I kill myself by killing you. Double murder. See Othello. He kills Desdemona out of jealousy. His blindness causes her moral (or physical) death on stage.
In Hitler's schools NapolaThe "elite" students must learn absolute obedience through humiliating treatment. The trainers treated them less than slaves. No invitation to know oneself. Nothing enlightened the affectivity of the future leaders. Their anguish was repressed. Their impulses were sublimated only in the desire to restore order to a world, it was feared, threatened with dissolution. The military defeat of 1918, the economic crisis of 1929, workers waving the red flag and wishing, with outstretched fists, to overthrow, added their collective effects to the personal factors of the impetrators (authoritarian family education, repressing, from early childhood, the need for elementary tenderness, the demand for special attention, the need for respect). Everything was ready to commit the worst of injustices: tyranny, and the worst of the worst: totalitarianism.
With the guidance of the youth, the atmosphere of comradeship and the drunkenness of unity, it became easy to cast hatred on the foreigner, to indulge in popular vindictiveness for anything that seemed to be contrary to homogeneity. Each member of the tribe had to perform only his group duty, legal and not moral. Ethics were being pushed aside. Even Kant's formal catechism was not enough to satisfy the call. Sacrifice his life, his spirit! That was the new ideal, sanctified in the parades. The oath of fidelity, to a man who electrified them, prevailed. Nothing could be done: everyone was subjugated by being indoctrinated, hypnotized, and at the same time put under control. The irony? The doubt? The taste of wisdom? - Good for autodafé, like books that make you think!

The end of the story

Pity, in which culture had given too much, was excluded, for oneself and for others. In intolerable situations, pity can become topical again. If the SS feel that they are being won over by humanity, let them feel sorry for themselves! That's Himmler's advice, a trick to avoid feeling sorry for their victims. It's a matter of turning the pity that man feels as an animal back on himself. Instead of thinking: What horrible things I have to do to people! a mentally failing SS man should lament the task that has been placed on his shoulders. The trick works because it requires less tears to be shed than extreme objectification. The I is no longer himself. He becomes passive when he overdoes it. It's someone else acting inside him.
The insensitivity of others, translated into insensitivity to oneself, becomes insensitivity to others again. Hardened into cruelty to the last degree, it results in "the most monstrous enterprise of domination and barbarism of all time". This was the feeling of the Allies in 1945. Unspeakable truth who speaks through "the person of his principal officials". Disgraceful behaviour "groups and associations that were the instruments of their crimes." They were "crimes against the human condition". Crimes against one's own humanity as well as that of all humanity. Crimes that are only a "crime against the spirit", "sin against the spirit". Nazi barbarism "raised inhumanity to the level of a principle". It committed "a capital crime against man's consciousness of his condition as such". (29).  - Truly evil, gruesome unreality that made hell on earth.
Through the State and its laws, men have decided what is human and what is not, without having any criteria of Goodness. They have killed man by mutilating his humanity. Their contempt for others made them despicable. They have degraded themselves by abusing the right, turning it against its purpose, which is to protect the individual, known and unknown. Should we ourselves cut them off from the social body? Many have banished themselves from humanity. Unrepentant but taking advantage of the Cold War, they proposed to defend the West. Thanks to complicity, they hid or fled. One of them will take with him a photo album mixing his life as an executioner in Auschwitz and his weekend escapades. Here and there, they fed into government intelligence sources and worked for the secret services of the two Great Powers. Their expertise was priceless. Barbie in particular taught the art of being a torturer. Knowing how to torture without killing: a technique that should have been patented!
Others, who knows, have made amends or regretted it. Germany, as a state, has admitted its guilt. Unlike Austria, it has done a remarkable job on itself (Erfurt proves it). As for the victims, some of them could not get out of their torments. Alex Corti's film, Welcome in ViennaThe "I'm a man who has seen everything shattered around him," reminds us of how those who have seen everything shattered around them cannot help but break the opportunity to rebuild a relationship anywhere. Others have overcome the desire for revenge that could have consumed them. Such as Primo Levi, who preferred to expand his being rather than shrink it. (30). Like Robert Badinter who gave Barbie, who was brought back to France, a fair trial. The court sat in Lyon where the former Nazi officer had served. The accused was given a decent cell. He was heard, defended, tried. He was sentenced to life imprisonment. As Keeper of the Seals, Badinter had taken the initiative to abolish the death penalty. He had no regrets, although he learned during the hearing that Barbie had had her father deported.
Hitler and his affiants knew that it was asking a great deal of those who served them to leave their humanity. It is not easy to lose what defines you and sets you apart from nature. You risk being only one part of it crushed by other parts. There is no shortage of rhetoric to mask this truth that everyone fears in its fragility.. "We Germans must be honest, correct, loyal and friendly to the members of our race and to no one else. ... It would be a crime against our blood to care for [others] and give them ideals. ...] The world can call us what it wants; the important thing is that we are eternally the obedient, obstinate and invincible soldiers of the German people and the Führer, the SS of the German Reich. "You are bound by your promise of loyalty, but you are reluctant? Be brave! "We know that what we expect from you is superhuman. You will have to be superhumanly inhuman. » (31)
As a counterpoint, there were among the victims gestures that sought to rehumanize those who had lost in humanity. In the Dachau-Landsberg camp, some had volunteered to give an extra bowl to the weakest, gnawed by hunger. « Every day we would "contribute" two spoonfuls each [for an extra helping of soup that would save the life of the person who had] reached the extreme limits of his strength and wanted to let himself die. » Nothing grand, but they were all gaining humanity. Solidarity brought a lot of dignity to the group. "Sharing is, I believe, the only valuable lesson in life. » (32)
It will be objected that the balance between loss and gain in humanity is not a simple one. Among the victims, there were executioners or victims who helped them. "How could Jewish technicians have built the gas chambers of Theresienstadt"? There are reverse cases. A Jewish engineer preferred to commit suicide rather than facilitate the crime. Although an agnostic, he applied the rabbinic precept: "Let them kill, but do not transgress. » (33). Others, through their children or families, chased after the war the executioners with impunity. One will quote Serge and Beate Klarsfeld. At their own risk and peril, they unearthed the authors of lese-humanity. Their action honored the ghosts of the past who could not rest.
Why are we going after the human race by developing means of terror and extermination? It seemed more reasonable to Diesel to patent a variant of the combustion engine without ceding its use to the army. On the eve of the First World War, this German engineer, born in France, showed his character in front of the authorities. He paid with his life for his desire to work for humanity (his death troubles historians). Unnecessary refusal? He had a compatriot, Fritz Haber, who had less scruples. He invented the mustard gas that decimated the soldiers in the trenches. He was rewarded. His wife killed herself. As a Jew, he had to emigrate in 1934.
The value of a patent is not measured in terms of the effectiveness or the victory to be secured. In the handling of tools, proper use counts. The registration or use of an industrial process may be sufficient in law, but in philosophy it takes more than that to be valid. A design, a trademark, a copyright, a patent, cannot have as its aim the destruction of a part of humanity. The weak must be protected. Their mixture with strong ensures the renewal of man in every corner of the earth.
Alain Laraby, Consultant and lecturer at Sciences Po
(1 ) Über allen Gipfeln ist Ruh' In allen Wipfeln spürest Du Kaum einen Hauch; Die Vögelein schweigen im Walde Warte nur, bald Ruhest Du auch. (Goethe, September 7, 1780)
(2)Primo Levi, If this is a man [Se questo e un uomo, 1958], Abacus, London, 1990, pp.22 and 35.
(3) he Engineers of the "Final Solution". Topf & Sons - Builders of the Auschwitz Ovens, Buchenwald and Mittelbau-Dora Memorials Foundation, Weimar, 2005, pp.20-21.
(4) Isabelle Saporta, Le livre noir de l'agriculture, Fayard, Paris, 2011, pp.69-71.Martin Heidegger, The Question Concerning Technology and Other Essays [1949], Harper & Row Publishers, New York, 1977. "Agriculture is now motorized food industry, essentially the same as the manufacture of corpses and gas chambers" (Heidegger, in Rüdiger Safranski, Martin Heidegger Between Good and Evil, Harvard Univ. Press, 1998, p.414).
(5) The Engineers of the "Final Solution". Topf & Sons - Builders of the Auschwitz Ovens, p.43.
(6) Testimony of Madame Claude Vaillant-Couturier, deported to Auschwitz, in Michel Dobkine, Crimes et humanité. Excerpts from the proceedings of the Nuremberg Trial October 18, 1945 - October 1, 1946, ed. Romillat, Paris, 1992, p.119.
(7) It was pointed out to me that "Stets gern für Sie beschäftigt" would be better translated as : Always ready to serve you, or: We always like to work for you, or better still: It's not just any service but a job.
(8) Hannah Arendt, Eichmann in Jerusalem [1963], Gallimard, Paris, 2002, chap.8: The Duties of a Law-abiding Citizen.
(9) "The Nazi assassins did not only follow orders. They showed initiative and great zeal and often operated with a wide degree of latitude. "(David Cesarani, Adolf Eichmann, ed. Tallendier, Paris, 2010, p.450).
(10 ) Primo Levi, If this is a man, p.386.
(11) V. Le Monde of September 27, 2011: "Across the Rhine, two brands caught up by their Nazi past Two books devoted to BMW and Hugo Boss reveal the links with the Hitler party. » V. H. Arendt, Eichmann in Jerusalem, p.1095: "Apart from SS companies that were not too important, famous German firms such as IG Farben, Krupp and Siemens-Shuckert, had established themselves in Auschwitz and around the Lublin death camps. Cooperation between the SS and businessmen was excellent; Höss from Auschwitz certified that he had maintained very cordial social relations with IG Farben. As far as working conditions were concerned, the idea was explicitly to kill by labor; according to Hilberg, at least 25,000 Jews died out of the approximately 35,000 who worked for a IG Farben factory. "IG Farben was an economic interest grouping of the chemical companies BASF, Bayer and Agfa.
(12) On the assessment of the conduct of German judges during the Second World War, see Peter Maguire, Law and War, [rev. edit. 2010], Columbia Univ. Press, New York. Judicial figures went on trial in the new Nuremberg trials, but the American judges who presided over the sessions also came under pressure from the Cold War. They resisted.
(13) V. Le Figaro of 3 October 2010, "The original status of the Jews overwhelms Marshal Pétain". The article reports the discovery of the document of October 1940 which contains the corrections of the head of the Vichy regime.
(14) Dominique Rémy, Les lois de Vichy, ed. Romillat, Paris, 1992; Robert O. Paxton, La France de Vichy, 1940-1944, Seuil, Paris, 1997. The round-up of the Vel' d'Hiv', which included children, took place in July 1942. The German code described this operation as a "spring wind".
(15) Goering, Conférence du 6 août 1942, in Alan Bullock, Hitler ou les mécanismes de la tyrannie, t.2, Marabout, Verviers, 1980, p.284.
(16) Himmler, Poznan Discourse [1943], in A. Bullock, Hitler or ..., p.285.
 (17) V. Krystyna Zywulska, J'ai survécu à Auschwitz, tCHu, Warszawa, 2010, p.127; Georges Charpak, Dominique Saudinos, La vie à fil tendu, Odile Jacob, Paris, 1993, p.89.
(18 ) Hélène Berr, Journal, ed. Tallendier, Paris, 2008, p.284.
(19 ) Intervention by Edgar Faure, Deputy Prosecutor General, in M. Dobkine, Extracts from the Proceedings of the Nuremberg Trial, p. 82.
(20) V. G. Charpak, D. Saudinos , La vie à fil tendu, p.89.
(21) V. K. Zywulska, I Survived Auschwitz, pp.90-91.
(22) Hamlet, IV, 4, verse 33.
23) Jean Zay, Souvenirs et solitude, Belin, Paris, 2004, p.64. The author wrote his memories during his imprisonment in France from 1940 to 1944. He was only released from prison to be shot by the militia. His body was found in a wood.
(24) H. Berr, Journal, pp.219 and 248.
(25) Aeschylus, The Persians. "And heaps of the dead, in a mute language, until the third generation, will say to the eyes of men that no mortal should think above his mortal condition. The excess in ripening produces the ear of error, and the harvest that is raised from it is made only of tears. Keep this punishment constantly in your eyes. ", Trad. Paul Mazon.
(26) "My soul is full of discord and dismay" (Hamlet, IV, 1, verse 45). "It annoys me to think that Eichmann is human; I would have preferred that he had a monstrous head, like Picasso, three ears and four eyes. "(Elie Wiesel, in David Cesarani, Adolf Eichmann, op. cit., p.419).
(27) Heinrich Heine, De l'Allemagne [1855], Les Presses aujourd'hui, Paris, 1979, p.179. We have lightened the text. "The hatred that Heine encountered all his life, as a Jew and an intellectual, opened his eyes to the ambiguity of a nationalism which came into the world as a republican and cosmopolitan idea and ended up being afflicted with "all kinds of tumors". He was wary of the fanaticism and narrow-mindedness that took a hatred of foreigners for the sake of the homeland, that burned books and placed national unity above the emancipatory content of the freedoms that the bourgeoisie had made rights out of. "(Jürgen Habermas, Ecrits politiques, Flammarion, Paris, 1990, p.47).
(28) Plato, Gorgias, 469c. "Is there any nobility of soul to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune? Who would endure the scourging and scorn of the world, the insult of the oppressor, the humiliation of poverty, the anguish of despised love, the slowness of the law, the insolence of power, the rebuffs which resigned merit receives from unworthy men? "(Hamlet, III, sc.1. Trad. François-Victor Hugo).
(29) Intervention by François de Menthon, Public Prosecutor, in M. Dobkine, Extraits des actes du procès de Nuremberg, pp.38-49.
(30) "My personal temperament is not inclined to hatred. I regard it as bestial, crude, and prefer that my actions and thoughts, as far as possible, should be the product of reason. Therefore I never cultivated within myself hatred as a desire for revenge, or as a desire to inflict suffering on my real or presumed enemy, or as a private vendetta. Even less do I accept hatred as directed collectively at an ethnic group, for example, all the Germans. If I accepted it, I would feel that I was following the precepts of Nazism, which was founded precisely on national and racial hatred. " (Primo Levi, If this is a man, and a second to hold it." Afterword, p.382).
(31) Himmler, Poznan Discourse [1943], in A. Bullock, Hitler or the mechanisms of tyranny, pp.28-6288; Himmler, in H. Arendt, Eichmann in Jerusalem, op. cit., p.1120. " It is a crime to make an unjust oath, and a second to keep it" (Rousseau, La Nouvelle Héloïse, III, Letter 20).
(32 ) G. Charpak and D. Saudinos, La vie à fil tendu, op. cit. pp.83-84. G. Charpak was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1992.
(33) H. Arendt, Eichmann in Jerusalem, pp.1133-1137.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Previous article

The world, fascinated by its own fortification...

Next article

Increasing Human Capacity: The Strange World of Synesthesia

Latest articles from Analyses



Already registered? I'm connecting

In order to contribute to the information effort on the current coronavirus crisis, UP' proposes to its readers a free entry to the latest published articles related to this theme.

→ Register for free to continue reading.



You have received 3 free articles to discover UP'.

Enjoy unlimited access to our content!

From $1.99 per week only.