banality of evil, exhaustion of tourista

Jul 16 2015 Published by under eastern europe, Uncategorized

A friend, to whom I sent parts of my journal, wrote back to me and said: What do you mean when you say "overwhelmed by the banality of what happened"?  I do not understand what you are trying to say.
Let me try and explain.
It was a reference to Hannah Arendt's comments at Adolf Eichmann's trial about the banality of evil. It is hard to judge how engaged anyone here is in history. I am perceiving people and places and the history presented by various entities through both their lens and my own position and prejudices.
Or, as we would say, if we were in physics, everything is in a moving and non-fixed frame of reference.
On one hand, the collective pain and scars of WWII and subsequent Soviet domination of the area are very real. The Museum of Terror, in just its name, let alone its contents, is a good example. The museum did not shy away from the fact that they were collaborators with the Nazis. On the other, somehow, such people were not "real Hungarians".
What happened to the Jews in Poland and in Hungary was banal, in the sense that, step  by step, every day it  became normal, acceptable, and just the way things were. To kill people, to take their homes, to send them off to live in ghettos and then camps, and finally to not live at all, was woven into the fabric of every day life. There is memory of it now, and, everyone's ancestors were heros and members of the resistance. Except the ones who weren't, and they weren't part of us.
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