To those who were brought up in the Western tradition of conscience— and who was not?—it seems only natural to think of their agreement with others as secondary to a solitary decision in foro conscientiae [in the tribunal of conscience], as though what they had in common with others was not an opinion or a judgment at all, but a common conscience.
Hannah Arendt, Civil Disobedience
The New York Times had quite an interesting opinion piece the other day concerning the recent trial of Oskar Gröning for crimes against humanity as a Nazi in World War II. Although the author’s commentary is interesting in its own right, it is to the comments section that I would like to address this post; specifically those that believe the German people should not be held accountable because they were merely following the “common conscience” of the time. Continue reading