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February 25, 1983 - Image 24

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1983-02-25

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

24 Friday, February 25, 1983

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

Seven Jews were awarded
the Congressional Medal of
Honor during the Civil War.

France on Trial With Case of Klaus Barbie

raised fundamental ques-
tions about the nature and
purpose of legal justice.
Americans are predis-
posed to discuss justice
either in the abstract or in
individual terms. In the
abstract, it would seem that

By REV. FRANKLIN
LITTELL

Party

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The National Institute
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PHILADELPHIA — The
jailing and extradition of
Klaus Barbie, "the Butcher
of Lyons," from Bolivia has

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nothing that can be done
will balance the injustice
done those who were tor-
mented and transported
under Barbie's administra-
tion. In the individual case,
where questions of rehabili-
tation are generally consid-
ered important, we have ac-
quired the insight that "jus-
tice long delayed is not jus-
tice."
But there is another di-
mension to justice besides
the theoretical and the in-
dividual, a dimension which
we tend to neglect: the im-
portance of signal trial and
punishment as an educative
force in society. Society
needs to maintain and
enforce principles of justice,
including punishments
commensurate with the
crimes committed, to in-
hibit those who may be
tempted to act in like man-
ner. Enforced justice is a
barrier against the constant
pressures to reduce human
interactions to the law of
the jungle.
That the French
authorities who suc-
ceeded in extraditing
Barbie have an under-
standing of this neces-
sary social dimension of
justice seems promised
by the announcement
that he will be re-tried.
He was tried in absentia
during the war crimes
trials after World War II,
fourid guilty and con-
demned to death. But for
the educative issue, the
prior sentences should be
carried out with as much
dispatch as possible.
Israel's trial, judgment
and execution of Eichmann
was a sign to the nations. It
was also a powerful educa-
tive force for younger
people, to whom the stories
of the Holocaust and its per-
petrators were already be-
coming theater rather than
historical fact.
France's re-trial of Barbie
may serve an even larger
purpose for the French
people: to help them face the
facts of their own complicity
in the triumph of the Third
Reich — for a season — over
most of European Chris-
tendom.
In spite of some splendid
isolated incidents, such as
the letter of the French
Bishops condemning anti-
Semitism or the superb film
"The Sorrow and the Pity,"
the French nation has not
faced honestly the facts of
French complicity in the
rise of Hitler, the temporary
triumph of Nazism and the
desolation of European
Jewry. They have culti-
vated the myth of wide-
spread resistance.
The brute fact is that
more non-Jewish Ger-
mans died fighting Hitler
than Frenchmen. The
brute fact is that a little
heroic band of Jewish
youth in the Warsaw
Ghetto Uprising held up
the massed forces of
crack German troops
longer than the whole
French army. The brute
fact is that Hitler was
helped to his early
triumphs by French
rightists: "Rather Hitler

than Leon Blum!"
Barbie's extradition to suc-
The brute fact is that ceed.
The German Federal
some Frenchmen, col-
laborating with the Nazi oc- Republic also wanted
cupation, outperformed him. But it is well that the
even the German require- French won out: the
ments in persecuting and French people now have
transporting Jews. The their chance to deal hon-
brute fact is that anti- estly with obscured — in
Semitism, unpurged and a number of cases delib-
unrepented, has been in erately obscured — pages
France a major force in the of its recent history.
If Klaus Barbie's re-trial
unholy alliance of leftist
and rightist parties defam- is carried through honestly
and openly, one of the major
ing Israel.
If the re-trial of Klaus purposes of justice will be
Barbie can lead to a tough served. Let us hope that the
re-examination of recent case will not be lost in the
French history by Fren- clouds of theoretical justice.
Let us hope that the crim-
chmen, and result in a purg-
ing of the malaise which has inal will not escape just and
poisoned French politics true judgment, as some-
since the Dreyfus case, then times happens with "Thief-
a major purpose of justice on-the-Cross" "conversions"
("born-again" Christians!)
will be served.
There is another aspect to in societies which forget
the Barbie case which that the purpose of justice is
should not be forgotten. As social as well as individual.
long as Bolivia remained a
The Jew Leonino Da Zara
fascist-governed country, was an Italian aviation
Klaus Barbie had a secure pioneer.
haven. It was the return of
474-8084
Bolivia to civilian govern-
Bonded
ment, the start of an inter-
Norman G. Lebowitz
nal renewal of democratic
Detective Agency
ideals and practices, which
Domestic - Civil - Confidential
made it possible for one of
Licensed --
19456 Deering
the governments seeking
P.D. 013
Livonia, MI 48152

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