Reflections on ‘Ethics’, ‘Morality’ and ‘Responsibility’ after the Holocaust

  • Herbert Hirsch


In A marvellous film, Breaker Morrant, the lead character, Harry Morrant, on trial for following orders to execute Boer prisoners during the Boer War in South Africa (1899–1902), notes, as he is on his way to the firing squad: ‘these days it is so very easy to be on the wrong side.’ Harry phrased, concisely and eloquently, a central moral question: How does one choose, or even know, the ‘right’ side when so many choices appear morally repugnant?


Ethical Judgement Wrong Side Firing Squad Moral Indifference NATO Bombing 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 2.
    Philip Hallie, Lest Innocent Blood Be Shed (New York: Harper and Row, 1979), p.270.Google Scholar
  2. 6.
    Thomas E. McCollough, The Moral Imagination and Public Life: Raising the Ethical Question (Chatham, New Jersey: Chatham House Publishers, Inc., 1991), pp.6–7.Google Scholar
  3. 8.
    Stanley Milgram, Obedience to Authority (New York: Harper and Row, 1974). Milgram made some further elaborations in a later work, The Individual in a Social World (Reading, Mass.: Addison-Wesley, 1977).Google Scholar
  4. 9.
    See, for example: David R. Blumenthal, The Banality of Good and Evil: Moral Lessons From The Shoah and Jewish Tradition (Washington, D.C.: Georgetown University Press, 1999)Google Scholar
  5. and Herbert C. Kelman and V. Lee Hamilton, Crimes of Obedience: Toward a Social Psychology of Authority and Responsibility (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1989).Google Scholar
  6. 10.
    David P. Forsythe, The Internationalization of Human Rights (Lexington, Mass.: Lexington Books, 1991), p.3.Google Scholar
  7. 11.
    Robert Jay Lifton and Erik Markusen, The Genocidal Mentality: Nazi Holocaust and Nuclear Threat New York: Basic Books, 1990).Google Scholar
  8. 20.
    Victor Farias, Heidegger and Nazism (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1989).Google Scholar
  9. 23.
    Anthony Storr, Human Destructiveness (New York: Ballantine Books, 1991).Google Scholar
  10. 24.
    Rainer Baum, ‘Holocaust: Moral Indifference as the Form of Modern Evil,’ in Echoes from the Holocaust edited by Alan Rosenberg and Gerald E. Myers (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1988), p.56.Google Scholar
  11. 27.
    John Farrow, City of Ice (New York: Random House, 1999), p.402.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • Herbert Hirsch

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations