From Mundane Lives to Pleasurable Evil and Back: Local Murderers and the Best Years of Their Lives
The talk will present the biographical portraits of several low- and mid-ranking Nazi perpetrators who murdered an estimated 60,000 Jews in the space of less than a year in the Czortków-Buczacz region of Eastern Galicia, and attempt to understand how these mostly utterly normal men became genocidal killers, why they seem to have taken so much pleasure from playing mass murderers, how easily they slipped back into normality, and to what extent their subsequent trials succeeded in uncovering their motivation and in gauging their guilt. This discussion will hopefully also shed light on the case of Adolf Eichmann and the concrete relationship between banality and evil.
Omer Bartov is the John P. Birkelund Distinguished Professor of European History at Brown University and one of the leading authorities on the subject of genocide. He is the author of The “Jew” in Cinema (2005); Germany’s War and the Holocaust (2003); Mirrors of Destruction: War, Genocide, and Modern Identity (2000); Murder in Our Midst: The Holocaust, Industrial Killing, and Representation (1996); Hitler’s Army: Soldiers, Nazis, and War in the Third Reich (1991); The Eastern Front, 1941-45 (1985); and editor of volumes on the Holocaust, genocide, and war crimes. He has contributed articles to The New Republic, The Washington Post, and The Times Literary Supplement. Among his accolades, Bartov has received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, the NEH, Harvard’s Society of Fellows, the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, and Princeton’s Davis Center, and he is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.