Throughout history, nations have fought against nations due to cross border conflicts. Along the way, wars have resulted and various atrocities perpetrated to not only civilians, but also the environment and the economy. Wars provide the right environment for perpetration of atrocities and prevalence of lawlessness. Other than just the winners and losers, two groups of people emerge from wars viz. the victims and the perpetrators of the atrocities. In every atrocity perpetuated, the culprit commits injustices to the victims of the war. Some of the atrocities recorded in history are beyond human understanding but one thing is common, the guilt of perpetrating these atrocities passes from generation to generation.
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Traumatic experiences of seeing people killed or/and being raped coupled with the lucky survival to tell the story or losing loved ones in a war leaves lasting impressions in the mind of the victims. On the other hand, killing people, issuing commands to drop the last bomb, or raping women also leave lasting mental torture to the perpetrators of violence during wars. Some of the effects of war outlive the war in terms of trauma and psychological effects to survivors of both victims and perpetrators. Use of prohibited weapons like nuclear weapons has left devastating radioactive effects experienced even in contemporary times.
The effects of the war do not end with the immediate survivors and perpetrators; no, these effects pass on to the children and grandchildren of the involved parties. The question in consideration is whether the children of the survivors inherit the trauma and the children of the perpetrators live with the burden of guilt over injustices committed by their parents. The generations that follow are blamed by subsequent generations of their victims for atrocities they did not commit. For instance, even to date, the Hutus of Rwanda are blamed for killing thousands of Tutsis in the infamous Rwanda genocide of 1994. Even though many might not concur, the Hutus, who were born years after the atrocity, will continually carry the guilt of their fathers and tribesmen.
In fact, most of the perpetrator’s progenies have to bear the responsibility of compensating the victim’s offsprings. Sometimes, the compensation is paid not to survivors, but to the children of those who died or lost their lives during the war because the war fought between nations and the national identity continues to exist regardless of the passage of time.
The existence of nations even after the war means the subsequent government has to bear the responsibility of previous governments. For example, a government that signs a treaty to end a war means subsequent governments abide by the requirements of the treaty. Therefore, such occurrences cause inheritance of the guilt of perpetration by generations that carry the burden of wars they did not commit.
The effects of atrocities perpetrated by previous generations pass guilt to the offsprings of such generations. Monuments and cemeteries are set up as memorial sites to remember atrocities; however, the monuments have served as constant reminders of those atrocities thus a reminder of the guilt laid on the perpetrator’s children. Such has been the effect of the monuments that Iris Chang was motivated to research on the Nanking Massacre committed in China by the Japanese Army. The arguments above indicate a strong case that guilt of perpetration passes from generation to generation.