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Karl Jaspers: sobre la culpa de los alemanes

Jaspers brings to bear a sacred principle of ethics: one bears responsibility only to the degree that one has taken part and acted . Where one did not voluntarily consent or approve, there can be no culpability assigned . The purpose of Jaspers's distinctions is to sort out the guilt that those responsible really should feel from the ill-defined and inappropriate feelings of guilt weighing down postwar Germans like a demon needing to be exorcised. (p. ix . !"# assessment of one's responsibility" To enable the process to begin for Germany and for Germans, Jaspers proposed a po erful but controversial fourfold schema : ($ !riminal guilt belongs only to those ho violated the la (taken broadly to include the natural law and international law% if not the positi&e law in force at the time in one's own country and who ha&e been con&icted by a court with appropriate 'urisdiction" (( "olitical guilt by contrast, comes about for the entire citi#enry of a modern state, for modern states allo no one to be apolitical. $nfair as it seems, this sort of guilt is hat all citi#ens of a country are presumed to bear for the deeds of their governments . )n this sphere% e&en declining to &ote in elections is taken to make a person co-responsible for the way in which one is go&erned% for one had the chance to participate. *egardless of whether the indi&idual citi+en likes or dislikes a gi&en regime% all citi+ens ha&e to suffer the conse,uences that the &ictorious powers impose upon the whole country for the misdeeds of its regime. %&' (oral guilt names the personal responsibility one bears before the tribunal of one)s o n conscience for one)s o n deeds -e&en for deciding to follow the orders one recei&es from one-s superiors. (. /erhaps the most contro&ersial category is what Jaspers calls metaphysical guilt, the responsibility that survivors often feel to ard those ho suffered and died . 0or Jaspers% these distinctions emerge from the basic principle that a person)s degree of responsibility is proportionate to the extent of one)s participation . 1y distinguishing the types of participation in which one may ha&e been in&ol&ed% the truly innocent can be free of the shame of being tarred by too broad a brush. (pp. ix-xi . *n the other hand, Jaspers argues, a refusal to make the necessary distinctions is likely to reduce Germany and its citi#ens to the status of an outcast pariah and thus perpetuate the cycle of violence and vengeance that indiscriminate sanctions are likely to foster by provoking rage at unfair treatment. (p. xi . 1ut here or in any walk of life% habits of truthfulness cultivated in times of peace and prosperity ill be re arded by a clear conscience, even in the harshest scenarios . 1y the practice of honesty and truthfulness e&en in the smallest matters and most mundane affairs% one will be all the more ready to act authentically in moments of crisis% personal or social% and perhaps e&en to take the risks that +dmund ,urke en&isioned when he wrote that all that is needed for evil to triumph is for the good to do nothing. (p. xiii-xi& . !"# guilt is not alien to freedom but comes precisely from being free. -t comes as an intrinsic conse.uence of some of the choices e make and some of the situations in hich e find ourselves and hich e accept. 2ur existence re,uires actions of &arious sorts% actions that we must will% choose% and carry out. ,ut the human condition is also such that even non/action is really a kind of action, a result of choice . 1y each of my choices and my

acts% ) make myself more of 'ust the sort of person who chooses that sort of action% for ) ha&e embraced one possibility and cast other possibilities aside. (p. xxi . We Germans are indeed obliged ithout exception to understand clearly the .uestion of our guilt% and to draw the conclusions. What obliges us is our human dignity. 0irst% we cannot be indifferent to what the world thinks of us% for we know we are part of mankind-are human before we are German. 3ore important% howe&er: our own life% in distress and dependence% can ha&e no dignity except by truthfulness toward oursel&es. The guilt ,uestion is more than a ,uestion put to us by others4 it is one we put to oursel&es. The way we answer it will be decisi&e for our present approach to the world and oursel&es. )t is a &ital ,uestion for the German soul. 5o other way can lead to a regeneration that would renew us from the source of our being. That the &ictors condemn us is a political fact which has the greatest conse,uences for our life% but it does not help us in the decisi&e point% in our inner regeneration. (p. (( . 3etaphysical guilt: There exists a solidarity among men as human beings that makes each co/responsible for every rong and every in0ustice in the orld, especially for crimes committed in his presence or ith his kno ledge. -f - fail to do hatever - can to prevent them, - too am guilty. )f ) was present at the murder of others without risking my life to pre&ent it% ) feel guilty in a way not ade,uately concei&able either legally% politically or morally. That ) li&e after such a thing has happened weighs upon me as indelible guilt. (p. (6 . -t is nonsensical, ho ever, to charge a hole people ith a crime . The criminal is al ays only an individual. )t is nonsensical% too% to lay moral guilt to a people as a whole. There is no such thing as a national character extending to every single member of a nation . There are% of course% communities of language% customs% habits and descent4 but the differences which may exist at the same time are so great that people talking the same language may remain as strange to each other as if they did not belong to the same nation. 3orally one can 'udge the indi&idual only% ne&er a group. (p. 7. . !"# there can be no collecti&e guilt of a people or a group within a people -except for political liability. To pronounce a group criminally% morally or metaphysically guilty is an error akin to the la+iness and arrogance of a&erage% uncritical thinking. (p. 76. 8orld opinion matters to us. -t is mankind hich so considers us a fact to hich e cannot be indifferent% ,esides, guilt is coming to be a political, eapon. 1eing held guilty% we ha&e in this &iew deser&ed whate&er grief we ha&e come to% and are yet to come to. 9erein lies the 'ustification of the politicians who partition Germany% who restrict its reconstruction possibilities% who would lea&e it peaceless% suspended between life and death. (p. .( . ,ut even more important to us is ho e analy#e, 0udge and cleanse ourselves . Those charges from ithout no longer are our concern . 2n the other hand% there are the charges from within which ha&e been &oiced in German souls for twel&e years% for moments at least% more or less clearly but impossible to o&erhear. That statement% :;ou are the guilty%< can ha&e se&eral meanings. )t can mean: ;ou must answer for the acts of the r=gime you tolerated< this in&ol&es our political guilt. 2r: ;ou are guilty% moreo&er% of gi&ing your support and cooperation to this r=gime -therein lies our moral guilt. 2r: :;ou are guilty of standing by inacti&ely when the crimes were committed -there% a metaphysical guilt suggests itself. ) hold these three statements to be true-although only the first% concerning political liability% is ,uite correct and to be made without reser&ations% while the

second and third% on moral and metaphysical guilt% become untrue in legal form% as uncharitable testimony. (pp. .7-.. . +very citi#en is 0ointly liable for the doings and 0ointly affected by the sufferings of his o n state. > criminal state is charged against its whole population. Thus the citi+en feels the treatment of his leaders as his own% e&en if they are criminals. )n their persons the people are also condemned. Thus the indignity and mortification experienced by the leaders of the state are felt by the people as their own indignity and mortification. (p. .6 . The destruction of any decent% truthful German polity must ha&e its roots also in modes of conduct of the ma'ority of the German population. 1 people ans ers for its polity. ?&ery German is made to share the blame for the crimes committed in the name of the *eich. We are collectively liable. The .uestion is in hat sense each of us must feel co/responsible. !ertainly in the political sense of the 0oint liability of all citi#ens for acts committed by their state -but for that reason not necessarily also in the moral sense of actual or intellectual participation in crime. >re we Germans to be held liable for outrages which Germans inflicted on us% or from which we were sa&ed as by a miracle@ ;es-inasmuch as we let such a r=gime rise among us. 5o-insofar as many of us in our deepest hearts opposed all this e&il and ha&e no morally guilty acts or inner moti&ations to admit. To hold liable does not mean to hold morally guilty. Guilt, therefore, is necessarily collective as the political liability of nationals, but not in the same sense as moral and metaphysical, and never as criminal guilt. (pp. AA-A6 . *ne might think of cases of holly non/political persons ho live aloof of all politics, like monks, hermits, scholars, artists /if really .uite non/political, those might possibly be excused from all guilt. 2et they, too, are included among the politically liable, because they, too, live by the order of the state . There is no such aloofness in modern states . 2ne may wish to make such aloofness possible% yet one cannot help admit to this limitation. 8e should like to respect and lo&e a non-political life% but the end of political participation would also end the right of the non-political ones to 'udge concrete political acts of the day and thus to play riskless politics. > non-political +one demands withdrawal from any kind of political acti&ity -and still does not exempt from 'oint political liability in e&ery sense . (pp. A6-AB . ,ut each one of us is guilty insofar as he remained inactive . The guilt of passi&ity is different. 1ut passi&ity knows itself morally guilty of e&ery failure% e&ery neglect to act whene&er possible% to shield the imperiled% to relie&e wrong% to counter&ail. )mpotent submission always left a margin of acti&ity which% though not without risk% could still be cautiously effecti&e. )ts anxious omission weighs upon the indi&idual as moral guilt. ,lindness for the misfortune of others, lack of imagination of the heart, inner indifference to ard the itnessed evil/ that is moral guilt. !"# German guilt is sometimes called the guilt of all : the hidden evil. ?&erywhere is 'ointly guilty of the outbreak of e&il in this German place. (p. C. . *n the hole, the fact remains that e Germans -howe&er much we may now ha&e come into the greatest distress among the nations -a$so bear the greatest responsibility for the course of events until 3456. There is no other ay to reali#e truth for the German than purification out of the depth of consciousness of guilt. (p. $$( . "urification in action means, first of all, making amends. (p. $$( .