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?