Friday, 20 December 2013

Don't punish the families

So now all three Marines have been named. Maybe somebody will come up with something to do with "public interest". Well, I'm a member of the public, and it is not in my interest.

Marine A has made a mistake. A grave mistake. And he's now paying for it. So is his family - inevitably - even without his name being dragged through the media. His family, his children, his friends, they are all deeply affected. What good is being served by naming him? And now the two others who weren't even found guilty? This is not fair. It is not just. It is simply wrong.

Let me tell you a little story:

My grandfather was, as far as I know, not a particularly nice man. He could be volatile. He worked as a prison warden in the concentration camp in Dachau. He was probably a member of the Nazi party. (All the records were lost in the war.) His family will have lived as comfortably as was possible in wartime Germany in the 1940s. Until one day he was shot in the back and killed - supposedly by his own men. The story goes that he had seen something with which he didn't agree. Whatever happened, overnight my grandmother had become a persona-non-grata. The widow of a traitor. With two young children, one still a baby, she was suddenly on her own.
     Fast forward two years and the war comes to an end. What do you think happened next? There was no mercy for the widow of a Nazi. She couldn't win. It took years for the Allied Forces to sift through all the documents and establish that she had done nothing wrong. Meanwhile she an her children had to live off left-over potatoes in the fields. I have a photo of her in those days - she looked awful. Hardly a trace left of the elegant and confident woman she once was.

No, the story isn't over yet.

I didn't know any of this until I was in my mid 20s. A distant relative mentioned it. All through my school years, I would have said what all my class mates said: 'My Granddad died in the war.' Assuming that this was on the battlefield. What my Grandma had gone through had left such a profound impact that it was never mentioned again. Now, suddenly, I was the granddaughter of a Nazi. And I have felt the "mark of Cain" upon me ever since.

Yes, Colonel Collins, I know what it means that one's deeds follow us down through history.

Today's situation is, of course, very different. But there is one common consequence: "Know it is your family who will suffer ..." - Marine A tragically forgot that. But we have no right to make matters even worse - for people who are innocent. Marine A is not a common criminal. He was serving his country. His family deserves protection. And I cannot for the life of me understand why anybody in the "justice" system could think differently.

1 comment:

  1. Comment from a veteran friend who wishes to remain anonymous:

    "You obviously don't understand the meaing of the "Mark of Cain". There is no point if the family can walk to the shops for milk and eggs if they are not to face the condemnation of all they pass. If ones actions can be held in secret, where is the warning. What is to make those on the verge of doing wrong to stop and think?I