Uncomfortable echoes of Eichmann

What should a public servant do if the government pursues a morally objectionable policy?

“[Australian Public Service] staff who contemplate the question above need only consider any number of recent cases in which public servants, when required to develop or implement a morally questionable policy, acted either ”immorally” by complying with the wishes of their minister or government, or ”unprofessionally” by seeking to intentionally undermine their government and its policy. To take an extreme but important example that underscores the former, consider Adolf Eichmann, the German bureaucrat and lieutenant-colonel in the Schutzstaffel (or SS). Eichmann was one of the officials charged and subsequently sentenced to death by an Israeli court in 1961 for his role in implementing the Holocaust (a legal policy of the Hitler government) among other actions.

Books such as Hannah Arendt’s Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil (1963) and David Cesarani’s Eichmann: His Life and Crimes (2006) demonstrate Eichmann is a controversial yet relevant case study when considering the question above, given he is perhaps the most famous example of a public servant who was found criminally liable for implementing a legal (under German law) yet immoral government policy.

Eichmann, for his part, never denied his official involvement in the Holocaust (among other government policies that he was responsible for implementing). His role was limited to organising the logistics of transporting Jews and other civilians to concentration and death camps such as Auschwitz. He was never involved in developing or approving official German government policy. Rather, Eichmann, his defence lawyer said, considered himself ”guilty before God but not before the law”, claiming that while the Holocaust was ”one of the greatest crimes in the history of humanity” his official actions were consistent with German government policy and German law.”

Read more: http://www.canberratimes.com.au/national/public-service/uncomfortable-echoes-of-eichmann-20140301-33t5l.html#ixzz2uwQdVlOA

“We can never forget that everything Hitler did in Germany was “legal”. It was “illegal” to aid & comfort a Jew in Hitler’s Germany. But I am sure that, if I had lived in Germany during that time, I would have aided & comforted my Jewish brothers even though it was illegal”.

– Martin Luther King

The Holocaust and Australia’s asylum seeker policy.

Holocaust survivor speaks out against Australia’s asylum seeker policy.

The comparisons between the policies of the Nazi party and Australia are disturbing.

The horrors of the Holocaust birthed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the rise of the human rights movement. However, we still haven’t learnt from these mistakes and are still violating basic human rights.

I often ask people: what would you do as a German citizen in WW2? What are you doing now?

To be complacent is to side with the oppressors.

Should the Genocide Convention be expanded?

Although the definition of genocide has more or less remained the same since creation of the Genocide Convention, argument has persisted over the groups that should be included within the scope of genocide and how genocide should be defined. This essay assesses the arguments for an expansion of the Genocide Convention.

The Genocide Convention should not be expanded to include other groups. The expansion of the Convention would not see it strengthened, but rather weakened by a watering down of the term.

While it is of course important to hold individuals to account for other horrific acts, such as the Cambodian atrocities, there is no need to expand the Convention in order to use such a law to cover these events. There are many other significant international mechanisms in place, such as humanitarian law and human rights law, in order to successful prosecute those responsible for these horrendous acts. The limitations of the Genocide Convention should not be a reason to ignore other atrocities.

Continue reading “Should the Genocide Convention be expanded?”

“Individuals have international duties which transcend the national obligations of obedience. therefore [individual citizens] have the duty to violate domestic laws to prevent crimes against peace and humanity from occurring.”

Nuremberg War Crime Tribunal, 1950

Australia during the Holocaust: Nothing has changed

“We have no real racial problem, we are not desirous of importing one”


“Australia, though her indignation is deep and her sympathy sincere, can absorb but a few thousand of them at most. It is in reality not a problem for Australia, but for Europe…”


“Australia has her own particular difficulties…migration has naturally been predominantly British, and it (is not) desired that this be largely departed from while British settlers are forthcoming.”


“We have plenty of trades and business people in Australia now, and the Jews who are coming here will be of no help to a producing country like Australia. For every Jew who is given a professional job in Australia, an Australian will be shut out.”


“Australian workers are being dismissed, and their place taken by refugees … so far as Australia is concerned they are not required here.”