The Ultimate ApologyHow does one begin to apologize for what is arguably the greatest genocide in human history? I Express My Shame, by Gerhard Schröder, was delivered directly to the people that were the subject of unimaginable horrors in an attempt to bravely face the repercussions of the Holocaust head on. This joined many great speeches made before his, by creating a sense of forgiveness and understanding through his syntax and humble reasoning.The liberation of the concentration camps, scattered across nations conquered by germany, marked the end of Hitler’s reign of terror and the ethnic cleansing that ensued under his leadership. The horrors that occured in these work and death camps were being realized by outside governments and populations during WWII, but it wasn’t until the voices of those who actually survived these camps were heard that the world truly understood the magnitude of dehumanization that took place. This speech occurs, in front of holocaust survivors and and assortment of politicians, exactly 60 years after the liberation of the infamous Nazi death camp, Auschwitz. Chancellor Gerhard Schröder, a known advocate for immigrant rights, green power, and reducing the rate of unemployment, delivers this speech in the hopes of furthering the journey to healing between all who suffered in the holocaust and the germans.
Schröders diction is used in such a way that he invokes all the emotions associated with those times; sorrow, pain, regret, and even strength, while still maintaining the utmost respect for his audience, the victims of Germany’s past. We bear this burden with sadness, but also with a serious sense of responsibility. Millions of men, women, and children were gassed, starved, or shot by German SS troops and their helpers. Jews, gypsies, homosexuals, political prisoners, POWs, and resistance fighters from across Europe were exterminated with cold industrial perfection or were enslaved and worked to death.
Never before had there been a worse breakdown of thousands of years of European culture and civilization (Schröder).Schröder skillfully makes each of these 4 sentences their own paragraph to emphasize the importance of his subject. ¨We bear this burden…with a serious sense of responsibility¨, sets the somber tone for the coming sentences, in which he speaks of the violence experienced by millions of people during The Second World War (Schröder).. He isolates the middle 2 sentences, both of which contain several commas, forcing you to pause when considering each item in between.
His insistence in showing the importance of this particular section of his speech tells his audience that, beyond a shadow of a doubt, he understands the crimes committed by his people and is utterly apologetic.Humans use of logic and reasoning are what put us at the top of the food chain, and Schröder exemplified this by using his reasoning to lay the responsibility of remembering the genocide, in its entirety, upon the shoulders of himself and every other German citizen. He is able to honor the victims of the Holocaust by ensuring that the German people, will not let the world forget the pain that was suffered at the hands of their forebears, and the lives that were cast so needlessly into the abyss. ¨The vast majority of the Germans living today bear no guilt for the Holocaust. But they do bear a special responsibility..
.remembrance of the Nazi era and its crimes is a moral obligation¨ (Schröder). He starts this paragraph with the concession that while the German people of his day had no part in the suffering of the jews and others who were affected, they must still deal with the repercussions of the sorrow that occurred on their soil. By saying that, ¨We owe it to the victims, we owe it to the survivors and their families, and we owe it to ourselves¨, Schröder effectively shows, not only his acceptance of their fate, but an eagerness to fulfill the debt that he feels is owed (Schröder). This opens the audience to his raw shame and good heartedness which appeals to the audience’s own forgiveness. The author’s use of diction and reasoning to show the depth of emotion he feels over the Holocaust creates a speech that is powerful and innovative in its approach to something so momentous.
While this is a subject that may be argued to be better left unbroached, due to its sensitive nature, the author maintains his respect and humble disposition throughout his speech making it effective in getting his thoughts to his intended audience. A great speech is defined by its ability to move others, regardless of background, race, or religion, and I Express My Shame epitomizes that idea. Works CitedSchröder, Gerhard. I Express My Shame. http://www.historyplace.
com/speeches/schroeder.htmSchröder, Gerhard. “The History Place.
” historyplace.com. N.p., n.d. Web.
25 Jan. 2018. com/speeches/schroeder.htm>. The Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica. “Gerhard Schröder.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 30 Oct. 2014, www.britannica. com/biography/Gerhard-Schroder.
com/speeches/schroeder.htm>. The Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica.
“Gerhard Schröder.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 30 Oct. 2014, www.britannica.