What is a crime? From Merriam Webster, I took this:
Definition of crime
1: an illegal act for which someone can be punished by the government
especially : a gross violation of law
2: a grave offense especially against morality
3: criminal activity
efforts to fight crime
4: something reprehensible, foolish, or disgraceful
This story is intended for a Vocal “True Crime” competition, but is going somewhat off track because I am going for the first option, “An Illegal Act for which someone can be punished”.
For something to be illegal, a law needs to be passed by a government to make that act wrong. Think about that. Literally, any act can be deemed illegal if the government says so.
Slavery has been, and still is in some places legal, so anyone protecting or trying to free a slave is committing an illegal act and is breaking the law and therefore a criminal.
So it’s not just murders, robberies, and the like that are crimes, there are a lot of moral “crimes” that are or have been legal. Today we see governments commit crimes but they make the laws and therefore make what they do legal. We hear time and again “But it’s legal” to which my reply is usually but is it moral? Is it right that a millionaire pays no tax but his cleaner pays 20%, no, but it is legal and therefore not a crime.
This argument and situation can be applied across the board.
So one of the greatest criminals of the twentieth century who succeeded in his crimes was Oskar Schindler who saved the lives of 1,200 Jews which was definitely illegal under Nazi law. If the Nazi authorities (and I am distinct in naming them as Nazi and not German) had found out what he was doing he would have been surely executed under their law as a criminal.
Schindler’s action continually went against the law, breaking it , and making him a criminal, but like any successful criminal he was not caught, and all this came out after he had successfully perpetrated his crimes.
There is a good article on his history here, which is far better than what I could put into words.
Admittedly Oskar Schindler's crimes were humanitarian and extremely brave, although he had been a formal member of the Nazi Party and was hardly a saint, but what they were doing completely turned Schindler, although ironically he had made is fortune on the back of appropriated Jewish business, but was arrested and questioned several times about just favouring Jews, so he was on dangerous, and under Nazi rule, illegal ground.
So Oskar Schindler’s crime actually prevented mass murder, and this story is probably the opposite of what was intended and therefore may not qualify for the challenge, but Oskar Schindler successfully perpetrated a crime, at least 1200 times and saved that many people’s lives rather than being responsible for that many people’s deaths.
There are probably many people in this world who have committed similar crimes and long may such criminality continue. It shows bravery and morality, something that is often lacking the further up the political tree that we look.
I think the point I am pushing here is that just because it is legal doesn’t make it right. You can go back in history to see these types of situations occur again and again. Someone pointed out that when Henry VIII was excommunicated he created his own church and that led to a lot of violence and destruction, but it was legal, so was it right.
What Schindler did was illegal, and criminal, but it was right.
A perfect song for this is “The Dance Alone” by Sting about the “Mothers of the Disappeared” in South America.
Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!
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