This photo I chose echoes the question Kuper subtly raises in chapter 8 of his book: Who do we consider to be a Nazi and who do we remember as a Nazi?
I have often found this conundrum in countries that haven’t fully been honest and open about their roles in the Holocaust. It is jarring to visit places in Austria and see little to no self awareness of acceptance of their role in the Holocaust. I see these similarities the in the Netherlands, where instead of awareness there is erasure. Germany has dealt with the trauma and impact of the Holocaust in ways that other countries haven’t and in turn still have unhealed scars from the war. The key words from this chapter I feel embody the handling of the war by Ajax and the Netherlands as a whole would be outrage and understandable. For Kuper, he had the aid of hindsight writing this book, that those decided the fates of members and legacies would not have had.
We see in this image soccer players giving the Nazi Salute. Who are we to judge in this image: The men saluting? The crowd enabling this salute? Or are we to forgive these players and observers because of the complex nuances of the war. Clearly there is no right answer in this situation and that is illuminated by Kuper’s case study of the Ajax club. Their way of coping with the war was to deem good and bad on a sliding scale of damage and past reputations. It is easy to see how from a distance we can brand all of these men good or bad, but up close the lines become blurred, for better or worse.