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Genocide and the Holocaust

Genocide and the holocaust are evils against the society that are ultimately wrong in the eyes of both law and society. The measurement and degree of these evils has always been a puzzle and still remains the same. The fact that the punishment awarded the perpetrators of this evil is not adequate and another issue that arises with the discussion of these two acts becomes appropriate. Moreover, the aspect of one being a greater evil than the other cannot be determined effectively. The common item with these two evils is that they undermine human life. This essay will focus on analysis of the topic about genocide and holocaust in the book A Common Humanity by Raimond Gaita. Also, this topic relates to the concept of human beings as infinitely precious.


Human beings are precious, and so are their lives. The act of merciless taking of human life is evil, but the act of conducting mass killings is worse. In this chapter, Gait has shown that human life is valuable. First, the chapter classifies genocide and holocaust as evils against morality and law. It further attempts to say that the law may be inadequate and disappointing in providing justice to individuals responsible for holocaust and genocide.

Taking away of people’s life is frightening, and many cannot understand those who perform these acts. “Many people who were present at Eichmann’s trial…their imaginations were defeated by the effort to put these men together. This demonstrates how people get puzzled with those who end numerous priceless lives. The pricelessness of life cannot be understood by those who have not suffered but rather by the victims of the holocaust or genocide acts.

The strengths of this chapter covering the concept can be divided into two kinds. Firstly, the chapter has covered the aspect of the victim inside the society. It portrays the feeling of victims anear the destruction of their lives and those of the society. He says that only the victims can fathom the reality of the evil of holocaust. Secondly, this episode has used numerous examples such as the story of Charles showing the extent of suffering that victims undergo. This has increasingly contributed to the reader having a wider understanding of the infinite significance of life.

One weakness that comes up in this chapter is the treatment of life by the law. The chapter has shown the inadequate capability of law to punish perpetrators of evil appropriately as well as the inability of law to distinguish between moral and written law. The writer portrays the law as not entirely sure about the concept of humans being infinitely precious. The law seems hesitant to offer and give a verdict. The second weakness in the chapter is where it points out that god watches the evil happen in the world leading to the destruction of human life. “The problem…there could be a god, who is omnipresent, omnipotent and good-is morally suspect.”

In this chapter Gaita has presented a contradiction between genocide and holocaust trying to define which evil is greater. A clear conclusion has not been drawn. Though he argues that we should not classify whichever of the two is of a greater evil, it would have been better had he provided a conclusion. This would maybe give an insight on the measurement of a human being’s life and its value.


The punishment given to genocide and holocaust perpetrators is not adequate, but it would be better if these people experienced the harm they inflicted upon others. Awarding a death penalty may be seen as an easy escape route for the likes of Ivan The Terrible and Eichmann as compared to the committed crimes. This is because taking away a human being’s life is brutal and should not be condoned.

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