Moshe-Mordechai van Zuiden
Psychology, Medicine, Science, Politics, Oppression, Integrity, Philosophy, Jews -- For those who like their news and truths frank and sharp

How do perpetrators of genocide, the Holocaust, live with themselves?

93-year-old former SS guard Bruno Dey in the concentration camp Stutthof near Danzig in the regional court in Hamburg, Germany, October 17, 2019. (Daniel Bockwoldt/dpa via AP. It headed the AFP report in the TOI yesterday.)
93-year-old former SS guard Bruno Dey in the concentration camp Stutthof near Danzig in the regional court in Hamburg, Germany, October 17, 2019. (Daniel Bockwoldt/dpa via AP. It headed the AFP report in the TOI yesterday.)

As another nonagenarian is rolled into a German courtroom to stand trial for working in a Nazi-concentration camp, playing a part in mass murder, crimes against humanity, I asked myself the above question.

Actually, the first answer that came to mind was, Really well, thank you. As the GP who asks his patient if he smokes who then answers, Yes, please.

It’s all sweet to read that he was sorry for what he did but he reportedly also said that he’s innocent, which kind of undoes the former avowal.

He was a member of the prestigious SS-Skull Battalion. But he now sees himself as just a peg in the large murder machine. This doesn’t sound real.

I’m really not so interested in having him trialed and convicted. (And not because he’s so old. That would rather tell me, he deserves a break from the good life and return to reality and justice.) For me, it’s more important that Germany keeps its commitment to be a force against fascism and an eternal close warm and dependable ally and friend to the Jews.

I’m even less interested to hear his apologetics. Save them for your Maker.

I would like to know if he could answer anything truthfully that will help young people to see the folly of his evil collaboration. Questions like:

How were you able to not commit suicide during the war years? You seem to think that in the camp you were unable to change anything. Are you aware of wrong choices you made, against better judgment, that brought you to a point where you had become a powerless executor?

Was it a conviction that Jews were Untermenschen, not worthy of life, that helped you participate? Or was it hatred? Did your hatred only come from your Nazi-training or were you familiar with hatred for Jews from your first years in life? Do you remember ever questioning this bigotry? Do you recall ever having doubts, pity or guilt against what this training taught you to feel, even if you didn’t act on such reservations?

No person’s life is without hardship or setback. Did difficult moments in your life ever bring up these memories of horror you had seen? How did you deal with them? Did you have nightmares? Could you tell anyone?

Germany as a country and nation has made quite a departure from the Nazi-era. There is much commemoration of the Holocaust, especially end of April and beginning of May. Also, solidarity with Israel is quite prominent. Did all of that please you in any way? Did it shock you, time and again? Could you say that your war history has ruined your life? How? Did you ever fantasize about the victims forgiving you?

Did you compare yourself a lot? Compare to worse Nazi-murderers to calm your conscience? Compare yourself to the Jewish victims being jealous of the attention and recognition that they were getting? Did you often feel that you were a genuine victim though you were a perpetrator?

You must feel defensive and scared now you’re brought to court for this. You probably don’t want to be seen as a monster and not be remembered only as accessory to crimes against humanity. But, are you also relieved to not have to take this all silently into the grave? That hiding is over?

What would it mean to you if we lived in a world without guilt for the past with only responsibility for what we do now and for the future? Do you have a message of hope from your war experience for young people? Any words of guidance on how not to make mistakes you made?

About the Author
MM is a prolific and creative writer and thinker, previously a daily blog contributor to the TOI. He often makes his readers laugh, mad, or assume he's nuts—close to perfect blogging. He's proud that his analytical short comments are removed both from left-wing and right-wing news sites. None of his content is generated by the new bore on the block, AI. * As a frontier thinker, he sees things many don't yet. He's half a prophet. Half. Let's not exaggerate. Or not at all because he doesn't claim G^d talks to him. He gives him good ideas—that's all. MM doesn't believe that people observe and think in a vacuum. He, therefore, wanted a broad bio that readers interested can track a bit what (lack of) backgrounds, experiences, and educations contribute to his visions. * This year, he will prioritize getting his unpublished books published rather than just blog posts. Next year, he hopes to focus on activism against human extinction. To find less-recent posts on a subject XXX among his over 2000 archived ones, go to the right-top corner of a Times of Israel page, click on the search icon and search "zuiden, XXX". One can find a second, wilder blog, to which one may subscribe too, here: or by clicking on the globe icon next to his picture on top. * Like most of his readers, he believes in being friendly, respectful, and loyal. However, if you think those are his absolute top priorities, you might end up disappointed. His first loyalty is to the truth. He will try to stay within the limits of democratic and Jewish law, but he won't lie to support opinions or people when don't deserve that. (Yet, we all make honest mistakes, which is just fine and does not justify losing support.) He admits that he sometimes exaggerates to make a point, which could have him come across as nasty, while in actuality, he's quite a lovely person to interact with. He holds - how Dutch - that a strong opinion doesn't imply intolerance of other views. * Sometimes he's misunderstood because his wide and diverse field of vision seldomly fits any specialist's box. But that's exactly what some love about him. He has written a lot about Psychology (including Sexuality and Abuse), Medicine (including physical immortality), Science (including basic statistics), Politics (Israel, the US, and the Netherlands, Activism - more than leftwing or rightwing, he hopes to highlight reality), Oppression and Liberation (intersectionally, for young people, the elderly, non-Whites, women, workers, Jews, LGBTQIA+, foreigners and anyone else who's dehumanized or exploited), Integrity, Philosophy, Jews (Judaism, Zionism, Holocaust and Jewish Liberation), the Climate Crisis, Ecology and Veganism, Affairs from the news, or the Torah Portion of the Week, or new insights that suddenly befell him. * Chronologically, his most influential teachers are his parents, Nico (natan) van Zuiden and Betty (beisye) Nieweg, Wim Kan, Mozart, Harvey Jackins, Marshal Rosenberg, Reb Shlomo Carlebach, and, lehavdil bein chayim lechayim, Rabbi Dr. Natan Lopes Cardozo, Rav Zev Leff, and Rav Meir Lubin. This short list doesn't mean to disrespect others who taught him a lot or a little. One of his rabbis calls him Mr. Innovation [Ish haChidushim]. Yet, his originalities seem to root deeply in traditional Judaism, though they may grow in unexpected directions. In fact, he claims he's modernizing nothing. Rather, mainly basing himself on the basic Hebrew Torah text, he tries to rediscover classical Jewish thought almost lost in thousands of years of stifling Gentile domination and Jewish assimilation. (He pleads for a close reading of the Torah instead of going by rough assumptions of what it would probably mean and before fleeing to Commentaries.) This, in all aspects of life, but prominently in the areas of Free Will, Activism, Homosexuality for men, and Redemption. * He hopes that his words will inspire and inform, and disturb the comfortable and comfort the disturbed. He aims to bring a fresh perspective rather than harp on the obvious and familiar. When he can, he loves to write encyclopedic overviews. He doesn't expect his readers to agree. Rather, original minds should be disputed. In short, his main political positions are among others: anti-Trumpism, for Zionism, Intersectionality, non-violence, anti those who abuse democratic liberties, anti the fake ME peace process, for original-Orthodoxy, pro-Science, pro-Free Will, anti-blaming-the-victim, and for down-to-earth, classical optimism, and happiness. Read his blog on how he attempts to bridge any tensions between those ideas or fields. * He is a fetal survivor of the pharmaceutical industry (, born in 1953 to his parents who were Dutch-Jewish Holocaust survivors who met in the largest concentration camp in the Netherlands, Westerbork. He grew up a humble listener. It took him decades to become a speaker too, and decades more to admit to being a genius. But his humility was his to keep. And so was his honesty. Bullies and con artists almost instantaneously envy and hate him. He hopes to bring new things and not just preach to the choir. * He holds a BA in medicine (University of Amsterdam) – is half a doctor. He practices Re-evaluation Co-counseling since 1977, is not an official teacher anymore, and became a friendly, powerful therapist. He became a social activist, became religious, made Aliyah, and raised three wonderful kids. Previously, for decades, he was known to the Jerusalem Post readers as a frequent letter writer. For a couple of years, he was active in hasbara to the Dutch-speaking public. He wrote an unpublished tome about Jewish Free Will. He's a strict vegan since 2008. He's an Orthodox Jew but not a rabbi. * His writing has been made possible by an allowance for second-generation Holocaust survivors from the Netherlands. It has been his dream since he was 38 to try to make a difference by teaching through writing. He had three times 9-out-of-10 for Dutch at his high school finals but is spending his days communicating in English and Hebrew - how ironic. G-d must have a fine sense of humor. In case you wonder - yes, he is a bit dyslectic. If you're a native English speaker and wonder why you should read from people whose English is only their second language, consider the advantage of having an original peek outside of your cultural bubble. * To send any personal reaction to him, scroll to the top of the blog post and click Contact Me. * His newest books you may find here:
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