Page 42 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 22

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36
J
e w i s h
B
o o k
A
n n u a l
ferent level to his satanic counterpart in
The Representative,
but who is, nevertheless, just as lethal in his own more prosaic
way. Having been a prime accessory to the murder of the alleged
Jew Andri he subsequently tries to exculpate himself in a state­
ment which reads like the distilled essence of all the specious
alibis recorded in the files of the denazification tribunals.
d o c t o r
.
I shall try to be brief, although there are a great
many things being said today which ought to be corrected.
I t ’s always easy to know afterwards how one ought to have
behaved at the time, quite apart from the fact that as far as
I am personally concerned I really don’t know why I should
have behaved differently. What did I do? Nothing what­
ever; I was the local medical officer as I still am. I can’t
remember what I am supposed to have said at the time,
but anyhow that’s my way, an Andorran says what he
thinks—but I shall be brief. . . . I admit that we were all
mistaken at the time, which naturally 1 can only regret.
How often do I have to say that? I ’m not in favor of
atrocities, 1 never have been. Anyway, I only saw the
young man two or three times. I didn’t see the beating-up
that is supposed to have taken place later. Nevertheless I
naturally condemn it. I can only say that it’s not my fault,
quite apart from the fact that his behavior (there is no
point in concealing the fact) became (let us be quite frank)
more and more Jewish, although the young man may really
have been just as much of an Andorran as I am. I don’t
for one moment deny that we were somewhat influenced by
the events of the period. It was, let us not forget, a turbulent
period. As far as 1 am personally concerned I never took
part in brutality or urged anyone to indulge in it. I can
state that publicly. A tragic affair, undoubtedly. It wasn’t
my fault that things turned out as they did. I think I can
speak in the name of everyone when, to conclude, I repeat
that we can only regret the things that took place at that
time.
This is the sort of unrepentant self-vindication the teacher
Siegfried would have advanced in Paul Schalliick’s novel,
Engel­
bert Reineke,
if he had ever been asked to account for his part
in causing the death of his colleague Lehmkoster’s wife. Early
in 1942 their headmaster had called a staff-meeting for the pur­
pose of putting pressure on the few remaining teachers who
still made a distinction between teaching and indoctrination.
During the verbal fencing that took the place of discussions in
German staff-rooms Siegfried had jocularly suggested that Lehm-
koster must have a Jewish wife—how could his negative attitude
to the strengthening of the homefront be explained otherwise?