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Terribly and Terrifyingly normal?

Perpetrators of mass atrocities

Terribly and Terrifyingly normal?
Terribly and Terrifyingly normal?

Terribly and Terrifyingly normal?

The attacks on 9/11, the invasion in Ukraine, the rise of the Islamic State, the genocides in Srebrenica, Rwanda, Cambodia and Nazi Germany are all incredible acts of human cruelty. They make us wonder: who are the perpetrators of these crimes and what drives them? These questions will be discussed with professor Alette Smeulers and other well known scholars within the field.

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Perpetrators of evil
Perpetrators of evil
Perpetrators of evil

Who are the perpetrators of mass atrocities? Are they pure evil sadists who are mentally disturbed or rather ordinary people who are terribly and terrifyingly normal as Hannah Arendt suggested when seeing the trial of Adolf Eichmann? In this episode Alette Smeulers will discuss her research and findings on perpetrators of mass atrocities and will focus on all the different kind of people who get involved in genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, torture and terrorism.

The men pulling the strings
The men pulling the strings
The men pulling the strings

Adolf Hitler, Josef Stalin, Pol Pot, Slobodan Milosevic and Vladimir Putin: they are the leaders at the top of authoritarian, dictatorial and violent states. Who are they and what is their role in the perpetration of mass atrocities? In this session we discuss these questions with Dr. Maartje Weerdesteijn from VU University who studied the role of dictators in the perpetration of mass atrocities and the manner in which the international community can potentially mitigate these crimes. The episode starts with a discussion highlighting that democratically chosen leaders are not necessarily less dangerous than dictatorial ones.

Violent ideologies
Violent ideologies
Violent ideologies

Terrorist groups like the Islamic State and regimes like Nazi Germany often justify their crimes through their ideology. Did they really believe they did the right thing or was ideology used as an excuse to commit evil? In this episode, we discuss the role of ideology in mass atrocities together with Dr. Pieter Nanninga from the University of Groningen. He is an expert on terrorism and studied, among other things, short films that suicide terrorists made prior to their attacks.

Obedience, Conformity, and Groups
Obedience, Conformity, and Groups
Obedience, Conformity, and Groups

What is the role of obedience in mass atrocities? Do people just blindly follow orders? How important are groups and what about conformity? In this session we discuss what we can learn from social-psychology when studying the perpetrators of mass atrocities. We do so together with Maria Ioannou who is a social-psychologist of the University College in Groningen.

Adolf Eichmann and the devoted warrior
Adolf Eichmann and the devoted warrior
Adolf Eichmann and the devoted warrior

Adolf Eichmann was one of the main executioners of the genocide during the Second World War. He is the personification of the banality of evil, the famous phrase Hannah Arendt used to describe him. In today's session, we discuss Eichman and others like Duch, the director of the Tuol Sleng Prison in Phnom Pen in Cambodia during the genocidal reign of the Khmer Rouge together with Dr. Thijs Bouwknegt from the NIOD.

A Booming Business
A Booming Business
A Booming Business

Trading weapons, selling hostages and privatizing armies: war is a booming business. But how big is the role of money in mass atrocities? Together with Annika van Baar, who is an assistant professor at the Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam, we discuss this question. We’ll try to find out the profitability of human rights violations and analyze situations ranging from those involving Nazi Germany and the Wagner group to companies like Facebook and Shell.

Victims as perpetrators
Victims as perpetrators
Victims as perpetrators

The distinction between perpetrators and victims of mass atrocities may seem clear. However, in reality, some people are both victims and perpetrators at the same time. In this episode, we discuss two such examples, namely that of Dominic Ongwen and Ans van Dijk. What is their story? Can they be blamed for their crimes? And how should criminal law account for such cases? We do so together with Professor of Law Mark Drumbl.

The morals of a psychopath
The morals of a psychopath
The morals of a psychopath

Not all perpetrators are 'normal'. Some are narcissists or psychopaths. In today's epsiode, we mostly focus on this latter group, specifically in relation to their conscience. Do psychopaths have one? How does it affect their actions? Are people born as a psychopath or are psychopaths products of their environments? Marijana Vujosevic is a university lecturer of moral and political philosophy at the Institute for Philosophy and helps us find the answers.

The rules of the Israel-Hamas war
The rules of the Israel-Hamas war
The rules of the Israel-Hamas war

Attacking a music festival, killing civilians, and bombing hospitals. They are all horendous happenings in the war between Hamas and Israel. Are all of them clear violations of international law or is the truth more complicated than that? In this episode, we discuss the war with professor Marcel Brus from the University of Groningen. We discuss the polarization of both sides, what's needed to stop the war, and the rules that have to be followed during the

Putin, Russia, and the ICC
Putin, Russia, and the ICC
Putin, Russia, and the ICC

The international criminal court has ordered an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin, but for what exactly? And how likely is it that he will actually face charges? In today’s episode, we discuss these and related questions with Sergey Vasiliev. He is an expert on international law from the University of Amsterdam. He argues that it is unlikely that Putin will be prosecuted by the ICC soon, but that the court still plays an important role in the war in Ukraine.

Last modified:22 December 2023 3.34 p.m.