The Instigator
dogparktom
Con (against)
Winning
14 Points
The Contender
NJDebater
Pro (for)
Losing
0 Points

Nazi Prison Guards

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 2 votes the winner is...
dogparktom
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 10/7/2009 Category: Politics
Updated: 8 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 2,357 times Debate No: 9628
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (1)
Votes (2)

 

dogparktom

Con

The Reader, starring Kate Winslet (who won an Oscar for her role), is a great film.

"It tells the story of Michael Berg, a German lawyer who as a teenager in the late 1950s had an affair with an older woman, Hanna Schmitz, who then disappeared only to resurface years later as one of the defendants in a war crimes trial stemming from her actions as a guard at a Nazi concentration camp in the later years of World War II. Michael realizes that Hanna is keeping a personal secret she believes is worse than her Nazi past - a secret which, if revealed, could help her at the trial."

Hanna is convicted and is sentenced to life in prison. http://en.wikipedia.org...(2008_film)

I invite you to rent the film and then, either join me to debate the following question, or post your ideas and opinions as comments to the debate.

Is Hanna's sentence to life in prison a just sentence?

NO, I argue:

Hanna is both illiterate and functionally illiterate (her secret). 1 Both states of ignorance are disabling in a modern urban society. Both states caused her to be ashamed of both states, which caused her to erroneously think that she had to keep them a secret. Both states and her need to keep them secret directly deprived the court and her lawyer of crucial evidence, namely, her states of illiteracy. Consequently, Hanna did not receive a fair trial. Since the court did not receive crucial evidence, she did not receive a just sentence.
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1. http://en.wikipedia.org...
NJDebater

Pro

Now, i have not seen this movie, but i have read the book, and i will debate this topic by philosophy.
First of all, i would expect my opponent to win because i do not have much time on my hands, and second of all i am rusty after such a long time.

Value: Justice. Justice is defined as giving each his or her own due. Since my opponent states no value, justice may be the accepted value.

Value Criterion: An unbiased court whose sole purpose is to serve justice. I understand that this will be a major controversy, since my opponent's point is the complete opposite. The trials were held in Germany by the UN. The reason the defendant, Hannah, was given a fair trial is because she had an association with the Nazis. And, at that time, Nazis given a harsh trial were considered to have a fair trial. This links to my value because in order to have pure justice, an unbiased court is required.

Contention One: The Nazis deserved a harsher trial. No matter what skeptics say, the Holocaust did occur, and what right did the Nazis have to take away more than one third of the Jewish population? Eleanor Roosevelt states, "It is not fair to ask of others what you are unwilling to do yourself." So, is it fair to ask a certain religious group to die (and use force if necessary against them) if you yourself are unwilling to die? Why should millions of innocent people be killed so brutally and savagely if their killers are not ready to face the consequences? If anything, Hannah's trial was lenient. Many people back then half a century ago believed in an eye for an eye punishment. Strictly conservative people / Republicans today even believe in that type of punishment. Hannah, if anything, got it easy. Anyone affiliated with the Nazis was considered on the same level of a Nazi. That included prison guards, even if their role was infinitesimal. My contention links to my value criterion because at the time it was unbiased to give Nazis a harsher trial.

Contention Two: Despite current conditions in Germany, where crime is reduced, the Nazis had committed a crime far worse than any other, and they left a footprint on Earth. In the movie Freedom Writers, (if my opponent bases his/her whole case off a single movie, why can't i base one point off one movie?) opposing parties in school kill each other heartlessly. They all hate each other. However, their new teacher, one day, tells them that they are nothing. They do so much for honor, respect, and remembrance that they become blind killers. Their teacher tells them that they will not be remembered, because they are simply petty criminals. The crimes they commit are not even close to the crimes committed by another group. She asks the whole class if they know what the Holocaust is, and the only person in the class who knows is a Jewish kid who is harmless. She then explains about the Nazis, and takes the class on a field trip. The class learns about the horrible things that have happened, and they come to a realization that the crimes committed by Nazis are unmatchable. Alex Levin states, "The reason there is so little crime in Germany is that it's against the law." Any crime in Germany, even a small theft, can be harshly prosecuted today. The reason that this law was put in place was so that another event like the Holocaust would not occur again in Germany, which would annihilate the state's reputation. So many people become blind followers that the consequences are harsh, and have a reason to be. C.P. Snow states, "When you think of the long and gloomy history of man, you will find more hideous crimes have been committed in the name of obedience than have ever been committed in the name of rebellion." The people of Germany obeyed Hitler because he made them believe they were dominant. He was simply manipulating them, because he himself was not a true German, and did not have blond hair and blue eyes. It was just a petty compliment to "legitimately" gain political popularity and create the National Socialist German Workers Party. Hitler made Germany his soldiers, then executed his plan to dominate the world and eliminate the Jewish people. Hannah ties into this because she was one of the Germans with blond hair and blue eyes (based off the book) and she was one of Hitler's blind followers. Since she was a jail guard, she had association with the Nazis. No exception can be made for her. Neither the book nor the movie tell the whole story about Hannah. I highly doubt a movie or a book can go through many years of time without being thousands of pages long. The parts skipped are so ambiguous that we do not know how many people Hannah had to kill when she was a prison guard. My second contention ties into my value criterion because the severity of the overall crime was so great that it seemed lenient to put a person in jail for life and not have them brutally killed the same way they did to the Jews.

NOW TO REBUTT:

I really can not rebutt efficiently until my opponent clarifies on what "both states" is. If the opponent does not, his/her point must be dropped, as neither I nor the voters have a clear definition of what "both states" is. However, my rebuttal against my opponent's "contention" (more of a stand-alone point) is that in a court case back then, many things were reviewed many times. For example, in To Kill A Mockingbird, The judge was very fair towards Tom Robinson, the defendant. He reviewed many pieces of evidence numerous times, and when Mr. Bob Ewell was asked to sign his name, he wrote with the hand opposite of the side that his daughter's face was bruised. (His daughter was clearly raped and beaten by him.) The judge stated this point, and became suspicious of the father. Here, we can see, even with an African American defendant (who was regarded as the most untrustworthy person ever), the judge held all evidence in high regard equally. So during to 1940 - 1975 time period, evidence was held in higher regard, and all aspects of a person were reviewed. Therefore, Hannah must have received a fair trial.

Before concluding, in no part of my case am I trying to be racist, stereotypical, or insulting, so please do not accuse me of it. Thank you.

To conclude, you must vote for pro mainly because the general idea of a fair punishment was an eye for an eye, and many other points i have listed above, but I am too lazy to rewrite them... So, therefore, you must vote for Pro. Thank you for reading.
Debate Round No. 1
dogparktom

Con

Thanks, NJ, for agreeing to debate the issues involved in The Reader, an excellent book and great film (which you really must see).

Since the factual context for this debate is the film (as my challenge clearly indicates), I had hoped that my opponent would quickly watch the film before accepting my challenge to debate the proposition Resolved, that Hanna's sentence to life in prison was not a just sentence. Regardless, since you have only read the book, during the debate you can cite the facts that you rely upon by citing the relevant pages in the book. I will cite facts from the film.

I will respond to your paragraphs that begin with the following five words: (1) Value (I agree), (2) Value Criterion (I disagree), (3) Contention One, (4) Contention Two, (5) "I really cannot..."

I contend that your argument violates these fundamental principles of jurisprudence, Equality Before The Law and the Presumption of Innocence. My argument implicitly relies upon both principles:

Equality Before The Law:

"Equality before the law or equality under the law or legal egalitarianism is the principle under which each individual is subject to the same laws, with no individual or group having special legal privileges. Legal egalitarianism admits no class structures entail separate legal practices. Thus, canon law, star chambers, and aristocracy are alike forbidden, and the testimony of all persons is counted with the same weight.

Concept:

This political development arose in the 18th century in both the United States and France after their revolutionary periods. It was not immediately implemented in either place, with the United States retaining slavery and a distinction between naturalized and natural born citizens (still in place), and France descending into chaos and tyranny under Napoleon." http://en.wikipedia.org...

Presumption of Innocence:

"The presumption of innocence – being considered innocent until proved guilty – is a legal right that the accused in criminal trials has in many modern countries. The burden of proof is thus on the prosecution, which has to collect and present enough compelling evidence to convince the trier of fact, who are restrained and ordered by law to consider only actual evidence and testimony that is legally admissible, and in most cases lawfully obtained, that the accused is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. In case of remaining doubts, the accused is to be acquitted. This presumption is seen to stem from the Latin legal principle that ei incumbit probatio qui dicit, non qui negat (the burden of proof rests on who asserts, not on who denies)." http://en.wikipedia.org...

I contend that your following sentences violate the fundamental principles stated above:
(2) Value Criterion:

"The reason the defendant, Hannah, was given a fair trial is because she had an association with the Nazis."

Comment: This constitutes GUILT BY ASSOCIATION. However, in a criminal case the alleged criminal acts and a guilty intent must be proved by proof beyond a reasonable doubt, not by the defendant's mere association with other people.

"And, at that time, Nazis given a harsh trial were considered to have a fair trial."

Comment: What is a "harsh trial"? How can a "harsh trial" be a fair trial? You cite no authority for this argument.

(3) Contention One:

"The Nazis deserved a harsher trial."

"If anything, Hannah's trial was lenient."

"Hannah, if anything, got it easy. Anyone affiliated with the Nazis was considered on the same level of a Nazi. At the time it was unbiased to give Nazis a harsher trial."

Comment: It is self-evident that these contentions violate both principles of jurisprudence and they lack any support in any cited authority.

(4) Contention Two:

"Hannah ties into this because she was one of the Germans with blond hair and blue eyes (based off the book) and she was one of Hitler's blind followers. Since she was a jail guard, she had association with the Nazis. No exception can be made for her."

Comment: The argument in the first sentence is irrelevant; in the second, it violates the above principles.

(5) "I really cannot rebutt..."

My phrase "both states" refers to Hannah being both ILLITERATE and FUNCTIONALLY ILLITERATE. I implicitly argue that her sentence was unjust because the court did not know of her illiteracy. I challenge my opponent to show why her illiteracy was not a relevant mitigating circumstance relative to the sentence that she received.

Finally, I argue that Hannah's life sentence was unjust. My opponent has not shown that her sentence was just in relation to the sentences given to her co-defendants (and fellow prison guards). He has not discussed the justice or injustice of their lesser sentences. I challenge him to do so.

In the next round I will show why her sentence was unjust relative to the sentences given to her fellow defendants.
NJDebater

Pro

NJDebater forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 2
dogparktom

Con

I'm a retired attorney, a former prosecutor, public defender, and private defense counsel.
http://www2.mnbar.org...

In a criminal case, after the defendant has been found to be guilty of having committed the crime charged (by judge or jury), it is the duty of the court to impose a SENTENCE (punishment) on the defendant. In deciding upon the appropriate sentence to impose upon each defendant, the court assesses the defendant's CULPABILITY and also considers MITIGATING and AGGRAVATING circumstances. Finally, an aspect of justice is PROPORTIONALITY, which means that "the punishment should fit the crime", which means that we don't hang the petty thief in the town square.

Hanna was sentenced to life in prison. The other prison guards -her co-defendants- received sentences of four years in prison. All the defendants were charged and convicted of having kept the inmates under their charge locked in a burning church until virtually all were dead. Hanna's SENTENCE WAS UNJUST BECAUSE:

1. Hanna was not a Nazi; it is doubtful that she even sympathized with the Nazi ideology. She just worked as a guard to earn a living, to survive. She was functionally illiterate. When her existing employer wanted to promote her (which would disclose her illiteracy, to her humiliation), she quit the job and applied for the menial job as a prison guard. She was working as a street car conductor just before her disappearance. She was also informed that she was going to be promoted just before her disappearance.

2. She was kind to some of the younger inmates and they would read to her (a mitigating circumstance).

3. When she was questioned about not unlocking the doors of the burning church to let the inmates out, she testified that they would just run about and "how could they be controlled." Then she addressed the judge: "What would you have done?" Again citing her illiteracy, I argue that this shows a limited intellectual ability, an inability to conceive of other options or ways of doing her job and saving the inmates' lives.

4. The court produced a handwritten report of the incident and asked Hanna if it was her report. Her co-defendants lied when they said that it was hers. When she was about to have her handwriting tested in court, she said it was hers (to avoid the humiliation of disclosing that she could not write).

5. Hanna's defense attorney should have known that she was illiterate. Michael, as a law student, should have have disclosed her illiteracy to her attorney and to the court. Their failures deprived the court of crucial evidence relevant to her culpability for the crime and on a proportional sentence.

Based upon all of my arguments above, I submit that I have convincingly shown that Hanna's sentence was unjust. Her story is a tragedy. I urge all to watch the film. It is one of the best movies that I have ever seen.

Oh, and also vote CON!

http://www.merriam-webster.com...
http://www.merriam-webster.com...
http://www.merriam-webster.com...

http://www.merriam-webster.com...
NJDebater

Pro

NJDebater forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3
1 comment has been posted on this debate.
Posted by Danielle 8 years ago
Danielle
Maybe I'll watch the movie in the next few days and get back to this.
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by RoyLatham 8 years ago
RoyLatham
dogparktomNJDebaterTied
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Vote Placed by dogparktom 8 years ago
dogparktom
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