Feb 272006
Authors: Kathryn Dailey

After a crime as great as the Holocaust, Daniel Goldhagen believes mending the damage done to the victims and their families is critical.

Goldhagen, an international best-selling author and member of Harvard's Minda de Gunzburg Center for European Studies , will speak at 7 p.m. in the Lory Student Center North Ballroom as part of CSU's Holocaust Awareness Week .

His presentation, "From Justice to Repair," will focus on what the perpetrators of a great crime can do to make amends with victims and their families as best as can be done for the harm that befell upon them.

Goldhagen will speak mostly about moral repair, which consists of four different aspects:

  • Telling the truth
  • Asking for forgiveness, which he said, "Only victims (or those who speak for them) can give."
  • Working to undo the continuing effects, which don't end when the actions are stopped.
  • Self-renovation, which Goldhagen said is looking at one's self or at his or her group and asking what allowed for the crime to happen and how it can be changed.

Goldhagen said the Holocaust has been part of his mental life for as long as he can remember. His father was a professor researching the Holocaust, which brought him to Germany as a child. His real interest began when he chose to write a dissertation on the subject that later became the basis for his first book, "Hitler's Willing Executioners: Ordinary Germans and the Holocaust," a No. 1 international bestseller.

The big debate then, he said, was how the Holocaust began. The big question, which no one was asking was, "When Hitler gave the order, why did people carry it out?"

"The answer wasn't obvious, and it was an important question," he said.

A committee chose Goldhagen after reading a column he wrote for the LA Times after the death of Simon Wiesenthal about the concept of justice being defined as repair, said Hedy Berman , director of Hillel Jewish Student Organization at CSU.

The idea of justice and repair fit with the theme of this week, "Justice, justice thou shall pursue," in memory of Wiesenthal.

A Holocaust survivor and founder and head of the Jewish Documentation Center, Wiesenthal "dedicated his life to documenting Holocaust crimes and hunting down perpetrators," according to a press release. He also sought out almost 1,000 Nazi war criminals.

"Simon Wiesenthal's goal was to bring justice," Berman said. "'Justice, justice thou shall pursue,' to me, it's a statement that implores us to fight for a just society and work to repair the world."

Goldhagen's speech will use Wiesenthal as a facilitator for looking at justice and widening the idea of what people should be looking for.

"In general there is too little serious moral discussion in our public lives," Goldhagen said. "I hope to give people a lot to chew on."

Kathryn Dailey can be reached at campus@collegian.com.

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