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CAN A PERPETRATOR WRITE A TESTIMONIO? Moral Lessons from the Dark Side

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By posing a heuristically provocative question, this essay compares and explores in some detail the testimonies of three infamous perpetrators from the Nazi period—Albert Speer, Rudolph Hoess, and Adolf Eichmann—for what they reveal about their motives, ideological thinking, and strategies of denial and self-deception, as well as influences from their social, political, and cultural context. The conclusion drawn is that many of the external and internal factors at work in them are recognizable to us as features of our own moral experience and, further, that this recognition is particularly important for motivating self-scrutiny in our own lives for any hints of impending complicity with moral evil.

Keywords: Adolf Eichmann; Albert Speer; Nazi perpetrators; Rudolph Hoess; moral evil; moral psychology; testimony

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Religion DepartmentFlorida State UniversityDodd Hall M05Tallahassee, FL 32306850.644.4552, Email:

Publication date: 2010-03-01

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