Miles Lehrman's Witness to the Holocaust Argues Whether Bystanders Affirm Perpetrators

Miles Lehrman's Witness to the Holocaust Argues Whether Bystanders Affirm Perpetrators

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In Miles Lehrman's documentary, Witness to the Holocaust, he argues, “A perpetrator is not the most dangerous enemy. The most dangerous part is the bystander because neutrality always helps the killer”, This is not a logical claim because bystanders merely witness it; however, they are not committing any crimes against laws or humanity. They may want to help the victim, but they may not do so because being a bystander is simply not illegal. Since forcing someone to be an upstander is illegal, people choose to not be an upstander because it puts them in an undesirable position. After all, standing up for the victim may put the upstander in danger along with the victim. Additionally, becoming an upstander does not guarantee that the victim will be safe and sound afterwards; the perpetrator may continue, perhaps with the upstander as another victim.
Many may argue that standing up for another person is more “righteous” and “heroic”; however, that is an overly-optimistic idea. In reality, when someone stands up for the victim, the perpetrator will put them in a position where they are either another victim or a coward that backs down later on. While the upstander may be successful, it is never guaranteed that he/she will succeed in stopping the perpetrator from his/her actions. Even if the upstander is successful, it may only be to a certain extent. For example, in the video “Old School Friends”, Norbertas Jokubauskas, a Lieutenant of the Nazi
soldiers during the Jewish Holocaust, knew that the Nazi’s actions were inhumane and cruel; hence, he commanded his soldiers to not confiscate property from the Jews. Although the Nazi soldiers did not take valuables away from the Jews, they still dehumanized and exterminated the Jews, rega...


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... so is sacrificial to one’s rights, it puts them in an undesirable position where they may be harmed as well, and success at being an upstander is not guaranteed. Perpetrators tyrannize those who are unable to stand up for themselves; like how predators seek out the vulnerable preys. Hence, instead of having bystanders to stand up for the victim, the victim should stand up for him/herself. In addition, unlike what Lehrman believes, bystanders are not the most dangerous to the victim; the perpetrator is. Saying that bystanders are the most dangerous is is like saying that if one witnesses something, then he/she is a criminal. Consequently, saying that bystanders should stand up for victims against perpetrators is illogical and naive. Concisely, it is not another’s responsibility to ensure one’s safety and wellness; instead, it is one’s responsibility to do so.

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