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Into that darkness: an examination of conscience, Gitta Sereny - Book Report/Review Example

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The non-fiction work titled, “Into That Darkness: An Examination of Conscience,” written by Gitta Sereny is based on over 70 hours of interviews relating Franz Stangl a  German soldier, who participated in World War II and commanded the Sobibor and Treblinka camps…
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Download file to see previous pages The non-fiction work titled, “Into That Darkness: An Examination of Conscience,” written by Gitta Sereny is based on over 70 hours of interviews relating Franz Stangl a German soldier, who participated in World War II and commanded the Sobibor and Treblinka camps. The author, being a journalist, has conducted extensive and systematic research into the work, which deals with the theme of mass murder or rather “ethnic cleansing’ of the Jews during Hitler’s regime, which is otherwise known as the Holocaust. The three introductory documents elucidate the sense of guilt that Stangl feels regarding the war crimes. During the interviews he develops emotional depression as he has been kept isolated, having been relegated to solitary confinement for about three years. The first interview discloses that Stangl has carried out the tortures and executions under instructions when he operated the death camp. Subsequent to the first interview, he shows his willingness to provide personal interview that the author really desires to elicit relevant information for her work. The case of Franz is a real life example of how an ordinary, simple man can become an extraordinary evil. Thus, the theme of the work transcends past the mere concept of covering the genocide and spreads on to encompass the evilness in humans which wreaks havoc on a particular race of the same species. The author describes the derivation of evil as a greatest mystery that can happen to the human kind and expresses her frustration about the use of religion to gain political mileage. Stangl, the perpetrator of such violence, however, realizes his guilt and expresses his repentance to the author towards the end of the interview and subsequently dies of heart failure a few hours later. The uniqueness of Sereney’s work derives from the fact that she does not merely focus her theme on the genocide or the cruelty meted out to the Jewish in the concentration camps, like other works of the same genre. She takes it to another level as the title suggests, by examining the “darkness” of “human conscience” that becomes exposed from the event. These elements drove the author to investigate what she describes as the serious interdependence of every action of humans. To make out what actually transpired in the Holocaust, she conducts several interviews with the subject. Besides, she has also cross checked the information that Stangl provides by interviewing his associates and family members, thus validating the story he tells. The word “conscience” can be perceived as the human being’s sense of recognizing the right from the wrong and applying judiciousness in life. All humans are aware of the fact that wrong actions bring punishment to the perpetrator, not merely in a physical sense but also in the spiritual context such as “the prick of conscience.” Sereney’s ideas thus take a further leap from the ordinary as her concern is not merely why the genocide happened but how a man smart, educated and simple as Stangl could become an accomplice to such a devastating crime and subject his fellow beings to such violence. In the final stages, he repents his crime and undergoes his own personal traumas. Thus, it becomes evident that he has a conscience but when power was on his side, this very conscience which is the essence of human soul, remained clouded whereby the evil could take control and make him embark on a path of rampage. What finally transpires in a spiritual context is that even if the family members of the murdered people forgive him, the accused will not get any happiness in his life. He will always feel guilty for his actions and keep suffering from his sense of guilt. Another aspect of the crime is that the accused himself is not committing the offence according to his will in the Nazi camp but he is commanded by the immediate superiors to do his duty even if he ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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