Comparative Victimisation and Victimhood during the Second World War: Claims of Moral Equivalence

Schwartz, M and Comer, D 2018, 'Comparative Victimisation and Victimhood during the Second World War: Claims of Moral Equivalence', Journal of Military Ethics, vol. 17, no. 43526, pp. 92-107.


Document type: Journal Article
Collection: Journal Articles

Title Comparative Victimisation and Victimhood during the Second World War: Claims of Moral Equivalence
Author(s) Schwartz, M
Comer, D
Year 2018
Journal name Journal of Military Ethics
Volume number 17
Issue number 43526
Start page 92
End page 107
Total pages 16
Publisher Taylor & Francis Scandinavia
Abstract This article considers the implications of jus in bello for jus post bellum by exploring the relevant differences between victims of different sides in World War II: the Jewish Holocaust victims and the German civilians bombed by the Allied air forces. Some assert a moral equivalence between the catastrophes these two groups endured [Appleyard, Bryan. (2017). Im a Holocaust Sleuth. The Weekend Australian Magazine, April 89: 2728]. Although we do not dispute that German civilians suffered as victims of Allied aerial bombings, we do question the depiction of their suffering as morally equivalent to the Holocaust of European Jewry. Much of the German war effort was directed at exterminating Jews. Likewise, much of the Allied war effort was directed at bombing German civilians. Both were wicked acts. But they embody very different goals, which were achieved by employing very different means. We present three factors that consider those different goals and means, thereby demonstrating that the Nazis victimisation of Jews was far worse than the Allies victimisation of German civilians. We conclude by urging military ethicists to learn from the past and to recognise that the treatment of the victims of war has implications for later generations.
Subject Applied Ethics not elsewhere classified
Keyword(s) Bombings
Holocaust
moral equivalence
victims
DOI - identifier 10.1080/15027570.2018.1532575
Copyright notice © 2018 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group
ISSN 1502-7570
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