The other day the ABC's "AM" program covered the harsh treatment meted out to captured members of the Waffen-SS by France in the aftermath of the Second World War. My gut said this was an inappropriate story. I fumed on Facebook:
Pretty disgusted that the ABC ran this story. For pity's sake, the Waffen-SS was not the German army: it was the military wing of the Nazi Party. Anyone who served in it should have had no protection under the laws of war. They certainly cannot be heard to complain that they were harshly treatedMy good friend Māra offered a different view, pointing out that -
Not all SS was evil. In the Baltic States young men were forced to join them. Some of them did it by choice in order to fight Russians who had occupied our countries. My father was one of them and for this Russians sent him to Siberia when they won the war and the world superpowers sacrificed the Baltics to Stalin to protect their own interests.
Image from here
The exchange left me thinking how hard it is to judge other people's actions fairly. The Third Reich worked little but evil, but clearly there are pleas in mitigation to be made for many who served it. If that's so, then it's even harder to be confident that one can or should condemn those who served causes where there was genuine justice on both sides (as was done by the people who recently defaced Confederate graves in North Carolina).
All this being so, ought we judge, condemn or disappprove people today whose actions appear worthy of condemnation, like the Oregon militiamen or, indeed, ISIS? Or is this just a cowardly retreat into deliberate indecision?