A Just Punishment for the Nazis?

Just Punishment and the Holocaust (Topic 5, part 1)

In April 2020, to coincide with Yom HaShoah, the day in the Jewish calendar dedicated to Holocaust remembrance, and the 75th anniversary of the liberation, Rabbi Sacks launched a series of videos offering his perspective on some of the biggest questions asked about the Holocaust.

A just punishment would be, in my view, in most cases, life-imprisonment. After the Nuremberg trials, 10 of the leading Nazis were sentenced to execution. That was in international court.

In the history of Israel, there’s only ever been one civil death sentence inflicted, and that was against Adolf Eichmann who was a major planner of the Holocaust and of mass murder. Historically, Judaism has been sceptical of the value of capital punishment certainly since the days of the Mishnah, eighteen centuries ago.

So it really was an exception in the case of Adolf Eichmann, and I think life imprisonment makes sense.

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This series, created in partnership with the Holocaust Educational Trust, has been made possible thanks to the generous support of Richard Harris.

View the full Holocaust series of curriculum resources with additional discussion questions and historical background included