Advertisement

Guilt in Wars of Aggression and Mass Murders: Who Is the Perpetrator, Who Is Responsible?

  • Egbert Jahn
Chapter

Abstract

The word “guilt” has not been used by sociologists and historians since 1945, and is almost never mentioned in publications, even though in the everyday social context, people, ways of behaviour and circumstances are accused of being guilty of undesirable acts and events that are considered to be damaging. Blaming others is, however, far more common that acknowledging one’s own guilt. For many years, the major works by historians on the origins of the First World War have avoided any reflection about war guilt, preferring to talk about responsibility for the war. The two most important German-language, systematic, academic studies on the concept of guilt appeared in Switzerland in the field of political philosophy. In this text, the focus is above all on political-moral guilt in wars of aggression and mass murder, the increasing awareness of which interacts with the development of standards in criminal and international law that prohibits acts of aggression, genocide and severe violations of human rights

For wars of aggression, only the narrowest band of political, military and economic state leadership needs to be brought to account, whereas when it comes to mass murders, the people who carry them out should be brought before a court, alongside those who order them. There continues to be a vast discrepancy between the codification of the norms and their application in court, since generally, governments and their henchmen can only be punished after they have been toppled politically and have suffered a military defeat. Political-moral guilt in both major crimes is not justiciable, differs extremely widely among individuals, and is graded according to the degree of knowledge, the potential level of knowledge and social position. It arises from both actions taken and the failure to act. Since the Second World War, a certain socio-political learning process, albeit a limited one, has been taking place with regard to the condemnation of wars of aggression and mass murder, although even now, there are still more monuments dedicated to peace-breakers and mass murderers than there have been sentences pronounced against them in court and characterisations as criminals in the politics of commemoration.

The purpose of a public debate about political-moral guilt is not to blame another due to their behaviour that enables past major crimes, but to raise awareness of the ways in which future wars of aggression and mass murder can be facilitated by one’s own erroneous political behaviour, since in the age of the sovereignty of the people, non-political behaviour is no longer possible. Only a stronger sense of responsibility in civil society, in the state and among the world’s citizens, can prevent future major crimes.

References

  1. Akçam T (1996) Armenien und der Völkermord. Die Istanbuler Prozesse und die türkische Nationalbewegung. Hamburger Edition, HamburgGoogle Scholar
  2. Bienk-Koolman S (2009) Die Befugnis des Sicherheitsrates der Vereinten Nationen zur Einsetzung von ad hoc-Strafgerichtshöfen. Zur Rechtmäßigkeit der Einsetzung des Internationalen Strafgerichtshofes für das ehemalige Jugoslawien sowie zum nachfolgenden Wandel in Praxis und Rechtsauffassung. Lang, Frankfurt am MainGoogle Scholar
  3. Buber M (2008) Schuld und Schuldgefühle (1957) (Guilt and guilt feelings). Werkausgabe 10:127–152Google Scholar
  4. Bundesgesetzblatt (2016) Gesetz zur Einführung des Völkerstrafgesetzbuches vom 26. Juni 2002, bgbl102s2254_13757 und Gesetz zur Änderung des Völkerstrafgesetzbuches vom 22. Dezember 2016, bgbl116s3150_74792Google Scholar
  5. Buruma I (1994) The wages of guilt: memories of war in Germany and Japan. Farar Straus Giroux, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  6. Charter of the International Military Tribunal (1945). https://www.legal-tools.org/en/doc/64ffdd/
  7. Cramer J (2011) Belsen Trial 1945. Der Lüneburger Prozeß gegen Wachpersonal der Konzentrationslager Auschwitz und Bergen-Belsen. Wallstein, GöttingenGoogle Scholar
  8. Darnstädt T (2015) Nürnberg. Menschheitsverbrechen vor Gericht 1945. Piper, MunichGoogle Scholar
  9. Deutscher Bundestag (2017) Grundgesetz. https://www.bundestag.de/grundgesetz
  10. Enzensberger HM (1993) Ausblick auf den Bürgerkrieg. Über den täglichen Massenmord und die überforderte Moral. Der Spiegel, 21 June, p 175Google Scholar
  11. Fall A (2017) Le traitement juridictionnel du crime de génocide et des crimes contre l’humanité commis au Rwanda. L’Harmattan, ParisGoogle Scholar
  12. Geneva Protocol (1925) Protocol for the prohibition of the use in war of asphyxiating, poisonous or other gases, and of bacteriological methods of warfare. https://www.un.org/disarmament/wmd/bio/1925-geneva-protocol/
  13. Giordano R (1998) Die zweite Schuld oder Von der Last Deutscher zu sein, New edition. Rasch and Röhring, HamburgGoogle Scholar
  14. Heilmann D (2006) Die Effektivität des Internationalen Strafgerichtshofs. Die Rolle der Vereinten Nationen und des Weltsicherheitsrates. Nomos, Baden-BadenGoogle Scholar
  15. Hoven E (2014) Der Tatbestand der Aggression – Wege zur Implementierung der Ergebnisse von Kampala in das Völkerstrafgesetzbuch. In: Safferling C, Kirsch S (eds) Völkerstrafrechtspolitik. Praxis des Völkerstrafrechts. Springer, Heidelberg, pp 339–372CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Hummrich M (2001) Der völkerrechtliche Straftatbestand der Aggression. Historische Entwicklung, Geltung und Definition im Hinblick auf das Statut des Internationalen Strafgerichtshofes. Nomos, Baden-BadenGoogle Scholar
  17. International Criminal Court (2011) Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. https://www.icc-cpi.int/resourcelibrary/official-journal/rome-statute.aspx
  18. Jahn E (1987) Geschichte – Schuld – Frieden. Kolyma, Auschwitz, Hiroshima und der potentielle “nukleare Holocaust”. Loccumer Protokolle 66/87:79–115Google Scholar
  19. Jahn E (1990) Zur Phänomenologie der Massenvernichtung. Kolyma, Auschwitz, Hiroshima und der potentielle nukleare Holocaust. Leviathan 18(1):7–38Google Scholar
  20. Jahn E (2005) On the phenomenology of mass extermination in Europe. A comparative perspective on the Holodomor. In: Sapper M, Weichsel V (eds) Sketches of Europe: old lands, new worlds. Berliner Wissenschaftsverlag, BerlinGoogle Scholar
  21. Jahn E (2015a) Commemoration of genocide as a contemporary political weapon: the example of the ottoman genocide of the Armenians. In: International politics: political issues under debate, vol 1. Springer, Heidelberg, pp 219–235CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Jahn E (2015b) The peace congress of the socialist international in Basel, November 24–25, 1912 and a century of wars and striving for peace since the peace congress of Basel in 1912. In: World political challenges: political issues under debate, vol 3. Springer, Heidelberg, pp 55–89CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Jahn E (2015c) Kosovo and elsewhere. Military interventions in defence of human rights (‘humanitarian interventions’). In: International politics: political issues under debate, vol 1. Springer, Heidelberg, pp 43–57CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Jaspers K (1946) Die Schuldfrage (The question of German guilt). Artemis, ZürichGoogle Scholar
  25. Kämper H (2007) ‘Die Schuldfrage’ von Karl Jaspers (1946). In: Hermanns F, Holly W (eds) Linguistische Hermeneutik. Theorie und Praxis des Verstehens. Niemeyer, Tübingen, pp 301–322Google Scholar
  26. Kant I (1970) Idee zu einer allgemeinen Geschichte in weltbürgerlicher Absicht (1784). In: Werke, vol 9. Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, Darmstadt, pp 31–50Google Scholar
  27. Kersten M (2016) Justice in conflict: the effects of the international criminal court’s interventions on ending wars and building peace. Oxford University Press, OxfordCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Kimminich O (1997) Einführung in das Völkerrecht, 6th edn. A. Francke, TübingenGoogle Scholar
  29. Kittel M (1993) Die Legende von der ‘zweiten Schuld’. Vergangenheitsbewältigung in der Ära Adenauer. Ullstein, BerlinGoogle Scholar
  30. League of Nations (1919) Covenant of the League of Nations, 28 April 1919. http://www.unhcr.org/refworld/docid/3dd8b9854.html
  31. Lillian Goldman Law Library (2008) Kellogg-Briand Pact 1928. http://avalon.law.yale.edu/20th_century/kbpact.asp
  32. Neumann F (1977) Behemoth. Struktur und Praxis des Nationalsozialismus 1933–1944. Europäische Verlagsanstalt, Frankfurt am MainGoogle Scholar
  33. Osten P (2003) Der Tokioter Kriegsverbrecherprozeß und die japanische Rechtswissenschaft. Berliner Wissenschaftsverlag, BerlinGoogle Scholar
  34. Petterson T, Wallensteen P (2015) Armed conflicts, 1946–2014. J Peace Res 52(4):536–550CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Pinker S (2011) The better angels of our nature: why violence has declined. Viking, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  36. Pohl D (2003) Verfolgung und Massenmord in der NS-Zeit 1933–1945. Wissenschaftliche Buchgemeinschaft, DarmstadtGoogle Scholar
  37. Politi M, Nesi G (eds) (2005) The international criminal court and the crime of aggression. Ashgate, AldershotGoogle Scholar
  38. Roggemann H (1998) Die internnationalen Strafgerichtshöfe. Einführung, Rechtsgrundlagen, Dokumente, 2nd edn. Berlin-Verlag Arno Spitz, BerlinGoogle Scholar
  39. Rummel RJ (1994) Power, genocide and mass murder. J Peace Res 31(1):1–10CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Schabas WA (2005) Origins of the criminalization of aggression: how crimes against peace became the ‘supreme international crime’. In: Politi M, Nesi G (eds) The international criminal court and the crime of aggression. Ashgate, Aldershot, pp 17–32Google Scholar
  41. Schabas WA (2009) Genocide in international law: the crime of crimes, 2nd edn. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Schabas W (2011) An introduction to the international criminal court, 4th edn. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Schefczyk M (2012) Verantwortung für historisches Unrecht. Eine philosophische Untersuchung. De Gruyter, BerlinGoogle Scholar
  44. Schlink B (2007) Vergangenheitsschuld. Beiträge zu einem deutschen Thema. Diogenes, ZürichGoogle Scholar
  45. Schwan G (1997) Politik und Schuld. Die zerstörerische Macht des Schweigens. Fischer, Frankfurt am MainGoogle Scholar
  46. Steinberger-Fraunhofer T (2008) Internationaler Strafgerichtshof und Drittstaaten. Eine Untersuchung unter besonderer Berücksichtigung der Position der USA. Duncker & Humblot, BerlinCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Strizek H (2015) Der Internationale Strafgerichtshof für Ruanda in Arusha – Tansania. Eine politisch-historische Bilanz. Lang, Frankfurt am MainCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. United Nations (1945) Charter of the United Nations. http://www.un.org/en/sections/un-charter/un-charter-full-text/
  49. United Nations (1948) Convention on the prevention and punishment of the crime of genocide. https://www.ohchr.org/EN/ProfessionalInterest/Pages/CrimeOfGenocide.aspx
  50. United Nations (1966) International covenant on economic, social and cultural rights and international covenant on civil and political rights. https://www.ohchr.org/EN/ProfessionalInterest/Pages/InternationalLaw.aspx
  51. United Nations General Assembly (1948) The universal declaration of human rights. http://www.un.org/en/universal-declaration-human-rights/index.html
  52. United Nations General Assembly (1974) Definition of aggression, A/RES/29/3314. http://www.un-documents.net/a29r3314.htm
  53. Vesper-Gräske M (2016) Zur Hierarchie der Völkerrechtsverbrechen nach dem Statut des Internationalen Strafgerichtshofs. Nomos, Baden-BadenCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Volkmann C (2009) Die Strafverfolgung des Völkermordes nach dem Weltrechtsprinzip im internationalen Strafrecht und Völkerstrafrecht. Untersucht am Beispiel der deutschen Rechtsordnung. Lang, Frankfurt am MainGoogle Scholar
  55. von Lingen K (2018) ‘Crimes against Humanity’. Eine Ideengeschichte der Zivilisierung von Kriegsgewalt 1864–1945. Schöningh, PaderbornCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Von Weizsäcker R (1985) Commemorative event in the plenary hall of the German Bundestag to mark the 40th anniversary of the end of the Second World War in Europe. https://www.bundespraesident.de/SharedDocs/Downloads/DE/Reden/2015/02/150202-RvW-Rede-8-Mai-1985-englisch.pdf?__blob=publicationFile
  57. Werle G, Jeßberger F (2016) Völkerstrafrecht, 4th edn. Mohr, TübingenGoogle Scholar
  58. Wikisource (2018) Treaty of Versailles (1919). https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Treaty_of_Versailles

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Egbert Jahn
    • 1
  1. 1.University of MannheimMannheimGermany

Personalised recommendations