Saturday, March 17, 2007

Eichmann Is In All of Us

Sometimes I forget that I am sinful and judge others for their weakness. When I do, I like to reread a story that Chuck Colson wrote about in his book "The Body." I read it 13 years ago, but I often am reminded of it and in a strange way it inspires me:

In 1960, Israeli undercover agents orchestrated the daring kidnapping of one of the worst of the Holocaust masterminds, Adolf Eichmann. After capturing him in his South American hideout, they transported him to Israel to stand trial.

There, prosecutors called a string of former concentration camp prisoners as witnesses. One was a small haggard man named Yehiel Dinur, who had miraculously escaped death in Auschwitz.

On his day to testify, Dinur entered the courtroom and stared at the man in the bulletproof glass booth - the man who had murdered Dinur's friends, personally executed a number of Jews and presided over the slaughter of millions more. As the eyes of the two men met - victim and murderous tyrant - the courtroom fell silent, filled with the tension of the confrontation. But no one was prepared for what happened next.

Yehiel Dinur began to shout and sob, collapsing to the floor.

Was he overcome by hatred . . . by the horrifying memories . . by the evil incarnate in Eichmann's face?

No. As he later explained in a riveting "60 Minutes" interview, it was because Eichmann was not the demonic personification of evil Dinur had expected. Rather, he was an ordinary man, just like anyone else. And in that one instant, Dinur came to the stunning realization that sin and evil are the human condition. "I was afraid about myself," Dinur said. "I saw that I am capable to do this . . . exactly like he."

Dinur's remarkable statements caused Mike Wallace to turn the camera and ask the audience the most painful of all questions: "How was it possible . . . for a man to act as Eichmann acted? . . . Was he a monster? A madman? Or was he perhaps something even more terrifying . . . was he normal?"

Yehiel Dinur's shocking conclusion? "Eichmann is in all of us."

May Light increase


Anonymous said...

That is a fantastic story. I do so love to prioritize sin. I have to keep reminding myself that all sin is the same in God's eyes. He hates all sin equally and forgives all with equal effort. Thank you for the reminder.

Rayna said...

We talked about this at church last week and it really struck me once again how I do this as well - quantify sin, mine isn't as bad as someone else's surely. (sarcasm here) It's been on my mind alot this week. I love that as the last comment stated, God forgives equally as well, or we'd all be in trouble.

Mark said...

Thanks for your comments! I find that that when I think of sin in small terms that I am the most dangerous. When I think that I too am capable of what Eichmann did, then I throw myself upon the grace of Christ (which I find to be a much realistic and healthier state to be in).

EternaLee said...