Moshe-Mordechai van Zuiden
Psychology, Medicine, Science, Politics, Oppression, Integrity, Philosophy, Jews

The missing remorse of an elderly Nazi camp guard?

And this is what the latest Nazi camp guard reportedly has said at his trial, before sentencing: Today I would like to apologize to those who went through the hell of this madness, as well as to their relatives. Something like this must never happen again.

I would like to stress again that I would never have voluntarily signed up to the SS or any other unit — especially not in a concentration camp. If I had seen an opportunity to remove myself from service, I would have done so.

He added that he only became aware of the “extent of the atrocities” upon hearing witness testimonies and reports after the war. The trial had “cost a lot of strength” from the 93-year old. Poor chap.


But this is what I would have wanted to hear from him:

This trial has been a harrowing and horrifying experience for me but I’m not saying that it’s undeserved. I’m even relieved that I don’t need to take my shame to the grave and that I now live in a country that rejects my youthful behavior most forcefully.

After the war, I managed to disregard it all. I rationalized that this had been a horrible time for everyone and that we’d better forget it as quickly as possible. And for many decades it worked. I rarely thought of the war. Even less so, of my complicity with genocide on the Jews and other mass murders perpetrated by the regime whose uniform I wore with pride.

But when I was getting older, my ability declined to ignore my feelings, thoughts, and memories. I tried to rationalize: I was only a young bloke. That I had little choice. That I didn’t even think that I had a choice. Nevertheless, I was implicated in the largest crime of the past Century.

Nothing can take away or erase my guilt. Even any legal conviction here pales in comparison to the moral guilt that I carry.

I hope that that from now on, we will never again see a return to a time in history in with young people would let themselves be used for such crimes, no matter how normal and decent they would be portrayed.

I will gladly accept any sentence given by this esteemed court. It will only be a token punishment compared to the real awfulness of my wartime behavior. I only hope that the verdict will not leave me in jail until I die.

But in any case, I want to say to the whole world that is now listening: History will write and remember all atrocities committed, no matter how normalized or hidden. It will record victims and perpetrators. Just make sure that you’re on the side of the victims and not of the perpetrators.


That’s what I would have wanted him to say. I mean, how come surviving victims are still haunted by their memories and he isn’t? He’s just troubled by the trial? Bad sign.

No matter how horrifically we acted, we can always move to the right side of history by voicing regret and encouragement for the next generations not to hate the innocent. As the German People, as-a-whole, has shown.

About the Author
MM is a prolific and creative writer and thinker, a daily blog contributor to the TOI. He is a fetal survivor of the pharmaceutical industry (, born in 1953 to two Dutch survivors who met in the largest concentration camp in the Netherlands, Westerbork, and holds a BA in medicine (University of Amsterdam). He taught Re-evaluation Co-counseling, became a social activist, became religious, made Aliyah, and raised three wonderful kids. 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 most influential teachers (chronologically) 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. * Previously, for decades, he was known to the Jerusalem Post readers as a frequent letter writer. For a couple of years, he wrote hasbara for the Dutch public. His fields of attention now are varied: Psychology (including Sexuality and Abuse), Medicine (including physical immortality), Science (statistics), Politics (Israel, the US and the Netherlands, Activism - more than leftwing or rightwing, he hopes to highlight Truth), 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), Ecology and Veganism. Sometimes he's misunderstood because he has such a wide vision that never fits any specialist's box. But that's exactly what many love about him. Many of his posts relate to affairs from the news or the Torah Portion of the Week or are new insights that suddenly befell him. * He hopes that his words will inspire and inform, reassure the doubters but make the self-assured doubt more. He strives to bring a fresh perspective rather than bore you with the obvious. He doesn't expect his readers to agree. Rather, original minds must be disputed. In short, his main political positions are: anti-Trumpism, for Zionism, Intersectionality, non-violence, democracy, anti the fake peace process, for original-Orthodoxy, Science, Free Will, anti blaming-the-victim and for down-to-earth optimism. Read his blog how he attempts to bridge any discrepancies. He admits sometimes exaggerating 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. * 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. November 13, 2018, he published his 500th blog post with the ToI. 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 a peek outside of your cultural bubble. * NEW: To see other blog posts by him, his overspill blog you can reach by clicking on the Website icon next to his picture at the head of every post. There you may find precursors to later TOI blog posts, addition or corrections of published TOI blog posts, blog posts the TOI will not carry, and some thoughts that are too short to be a TOI blog post. Also, the TOI only allows for one blog post per blogger per 24 hours. Sometimes, he has more to say than that. * To send any personal reaction to him, scroll to the top of the blog post and click Contact Me.
Related Topics
Related Posts