The Man In The Bulletproof Glass

In 1960, Israeli undercover agents orchestrated the daring kidnapping of one of the worst of the Holocaust’s 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 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 an anticipated 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 that Dinur had expected. Rather, he was an ordinary man, just like anyone else. And in that one instant, Dinur came to a 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 to 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 was this: “Eichmann is in all of us.” The language of sin and evil is a lost language in society today and even in the church.

In my last Mind The Gap, I talked about Jealousy, murder and Christian culture—a subject James addressed in chapter 4 of his letter to believers. I said I wanted to talk about how that and twisted thinking can be avoided. Where does it begin?

May I say, it starts at the place where Dinur, as he faced Eichmann said,I was afraid about myself. I saw that I am capable to do this … exactly like he.”

A sound and balanced modus operandi always starts with a healthy respect for our depravity, even in Christian Culture where God is always open to a broken and contrite heart. Thoughts?

12 thoughts on “The Man In The Bulletproof Glass

  1. 31/2yrs ago my wife of 29 yrs left me for another man, I forgave her even though she has never asked me to. I did it because I know under the right circumstances I too could have done what she did. It all starts with a desire of the mind & if you dwell on a desire long enough, yielding is only a matter of time.Like a dear friend once told me we are ALL made of the same mud. I thank God I was able to change my focus & live according to the Spirit when I was tempted.

  2. I think it’s frightening how easily we (I) could go to an evil place without healthy fear and questioning. Most of the evil we accept would seem repulsive if presented all at once; instead, it is introduced by others or ourselves little by little and we get desensitized to it and rationalize it before we go deeper. (Twisted Thinking, right Jerry!) Political/ethnic hatred are not new. I’m thinking about how divided and cynical political sides are, and how many people take their party’s view and fight and spew hatred, blame and lies toward the other party without thinking or questioning much of what they read and hear. Or even consider listening/reading, with an open mind, info from the opposite party. I hear things from people and read FaceBook posts that make me shiver because they are so hate filled. Many are Christ followers talking about other Christ followers. Not that it’s any better for Christ followers to spew it about people who are not! How far would individuals really take it, if pressed by their party, given enough time, desensitized justification, and fervor? That may seem extreme, but I think we’re all capable of unthinkable things. Unless we prayerfully think. I thank God that He has made a way of escape and pray that I allow my mind and thoughts (the only things I truly have control of) to continually be renewed by His Spirit and Word. We are accountable for our actions and thoughts, etc but without that renewal, we are pretty much doomed. I am a reforming twisted thinker!

    1. You have good things to say Sue. I really liked it when you said, “We are accountable for our actions and thoughts, etc but without that renewal, we are pretty much doomed. I am a reforming twisted thinker!” Glad I’m not alone. 🙂

  3. …but for the grace of God. He draws us with His lovingkindness … but will we turn the other way, or humbly draw close to Him? The depravity of our soul is deep, but we do have choices to walk humbly before and with the Lord or go our own way. Good thing we don’t have to go at it alone …

  4. Jerry, I have seen that interview. Amazing. Truth,no matter the format, forces us to acknowledge its relevance or continue to live in the natural fantasy of destruction.

    1. Carla, that is a healthy fear – sort of like the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. But I do hear the emotion behind it and the responsible thinking that says, “I don’t want to hurt anyone.” Thanks for your thoughts.