In the video, "Teaching about the Perpetrators: A Case Study", ISHS staff member Dr. Noa Mkayton broaches the difficult subject of the perpetrators in the Holocaust. Dr. Mkayton stresses the dangers in seeing perpetrators purely as other-worldy "monsters". Taking the case study of Paul Salitter, a German Police officer tasked with escorting a transport of some 1,000 Jews to their deaths, we see a fairly ordinary person, oblivious to the moral ramifications of his actions. In examining his depiction of the events, and contrasting it that of a Jewish deportee on that very transport, we hear and feel Salitter's disconnect from the human beings he is helping murder. In confronting the difficult questions arising from this case - questions we can't hope to fully answer - we deepen the debate over these issues, while encouraging students to be more aware of the consequences of their own actions. The materials discussed in this video are available on our website and in teaching units produced at the ISHS.
Dr. Noa Mkayton is a staff member at the International School for Holocaust Studies, Yad Vashem.
Further pedagogical objectives
- The prime value here is in considering a single human being. We consider one person’s choices, the context in which they were made, the options they faced.
- We see the depth to which humanity can sink, and the relative ease with which a person can build defence mechanisms and justifications for acting immorally.
- Hilde’s testimony both provides a humanizing account where this is missing in Salitter, and confirms the evil that is subdued in his matter-of-fact tone.