Abstract

Labeling the perpetrators of the Holocaust as barbarians obscures more than it clarifies. Evidence suggests that many perpetrators found killing unarmed victims distasteful, but they asserted and celebrated their ability to discipline their emotional weakness and to overcome feelings of human sympathy. Viewed in light of Norbert Elias’s insights concerning the civilizing process as the molding of emotions to meet social expectations, the perpetrators’ ethos of self-control corresponds with a civilized concern with social pressure. The perpetrators’ accounts illuminate how they felt about killing and underscore the importance of social factors in shaping their actions and feelings.

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Additional Information

ISSN
2164-8646
Print ISSN
0149-7952
Pages
pp. 33-54
Launched on MUSE
2012-02-09
Open Access
No
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