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Auschwitz and the Holocaust Through the Eyes of the Perpetrators

Driemaandelijks Tijschrift van de Stichting Auschwitz 50 (1996), 23-55

17 Pages Posted: 8 Nov 2014  

Alette Smeulers

Tilburg University; Univeristy of Groningen

Date Written: 1996

Abstract

This article explores how perpetrators who worked at Auschwitz perceived the world around them. It is based on an analysis of ego-documents such as diaries, auto-biographies, personal statements and interviews from perpetrators who worked at Auschwitz. On the basis of these documents the article aims to understand why they committed these crimes. Most perpetrators did not have a criminal record or any mental deficiencies and were very ordinary people who used different psychological mechanisms and techniques to emotionally distance themselves from the pain and suffering they caused. Most were struck by horror the first time they entered Auschwitz but then they gradually adapted and accustomed to the world around them.

Keywords: Genocide, perpetrators, Auschwitz, Holocaust, international crimes

Suggested Citation

Smeulers, Alette, Auschwitz and the Holocaust Through the Eyes of the Perpetrators (1996). Driemaandelijks Tijschrift van de Stichting Auschwitz 50 (1996), 23-55. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2520452

Alette Smeulers (Contact Author)

Tilburg University ( email )

P.O. Box 90153
Tilburg, DC 5000 LE
Netherlands

Univeristy of Groningen ( email )

9700 AS Groningen
Netherlands

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