Unde malum? A ministerial boondoggle to battle xenophobia

Politics & Policy|Society
Martin Rychlík | 27.04.2012
Can one really exhaustively analyze the ancient history of evil?

The author of these sentences was traumatized as a child to see tufts of hair and mountains of glasses at Auschwitz. In Yerevan, Armenia he looked on lamentably at the flame, which beneath the large memorial gave eternal testimony to the hundreds of thousands of Armenians killed between 1915 and 1923. On August 6, he was in Hiroshima as it marked the day when death came without notice from the skies. But nothing in his life caused as much shock as an outwardly calm location around a church in the Rwandan town of Nyamata...

It was here in an adjoining diocese that in 1994 twenty thousand Tutsis sought shelter in the naive hope that its ordained grounds could protect against the Hutu Interahamwe militias. Even 15 years after the fact, hundreds of musty bits of clothing, reeking of putrefaction – of death — remain at this site. It is the stench of evil.

“They killed them any which way they could. Machetes, hammers, sickles, sticks, spears… Often farm tools and even hoes were used. People were tossed into a cesspool so that they would drown in feces. Other corpses were tossed onto a pile, with a naked woman clutching a baby at her breast deliberately placed at its very top. Before that, they managed to rape her before piercing her vagina with a lance,” recalled a groundskeeper when we walked through this “charnel-house” among the shelves containing hundreds, if not thousands of hacked-through and smashed skulls. He too could not hold back the tears.

Those who like to read human horror stories might do well to reach for the Gérard Prunier book The Rwanda Crisis: History of a Genocide (1995). There are no holds barred in this account of the hell that was unleashed during this genocide. “Sadism coupled with racism reached unbelievable extremes. A Hutu professor, whose Tutsi wife was in the final stages of pregnancy, was forced to watch as the unborn fetus was torn from its mother’s body and then forced into his face. ‘Here, eat your bastard!’” writes Prunier. Women were forced to kill their children and children were forced to kill their parents.

That is evil. It is hard to say how and whether genocides from all corners of the earth can be compared – and then how to figure out how to tell such stories to schoolchildren? Perhaps it is possible. But if someone really wants to concern themselves with the “archaeology of evil” then it should certainly be done expertly and responsibly. And without a registered trademark protecting its interests.  

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