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February 27, 1991

Collective Guilt

Author Affiliations

Petoskey, Mich

Petoskey, Mich

JAMA. 1991;265(8):977-978. doi:10.1001/jama.1991.03460080047026

To the Editor. —  It is a sobering experience to read Dr Curfman's1 story "Stein-Bockenheim." Lifelong exposure to anti-Germanism, it appears, has claimed another innocent victim and left Dr Curfman with the impression that much publicized German war crimes are more criminal than less publicized non-German war crimes. Even a cursory review of world history amply demonstrates the universal human potential for doing evil. When, where, and to what extent this potential raises its ugly head seems to depend on circumstances quite unrelated to the particular nationality, religion, or race of the perpetrator.Pointing fingers and wailing over imaginary misdeeds attributed to a distant relative in a foreign land some 50 years ago will do little to reduce the sum total of evil on this earth. Responsible personal conduct, here and now, offers itself as a promising option to all individuals of good will.