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My Father the Good Nazi: Reflections on an Encounter

Jewish Medical Association with the Institute of Jewish Studies, UCL

Wednesday, 27 November 2013 from 18:45 to 20:00 (GMT)

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Philippe Sands was researching a book on the origins of international criminal law and its connection with Lemberg, where his grandfather was born in 1904. He was introduced to Horst, the son of Lemberg’s Nazi governor, Otto von Wächter. Initially impressed by Horst’s openness, his willingness to bare his struggle with his family history, and even to share documents and photographs, Sands was increasingly surprised by his attitude to his father, an indicted Nazi leader who signed a document in March 1942 effectively transferring the Jews of Galicia to Belzec.  “I must find the good in my father,” Horst said “My father was a good man, a liberal who did his best,” he said. “Others would have been worse.” More brutal, asked Sands, that condemning all the Jews to death? His examination of one man’s rationalisation of brutality is the subject of this talk.

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