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Denomination of the victims and stages of their destruction in some testimonies of direct perpetrators of mass violence

Open Panel

Abstract

This communication is based on a limited number of in-depth, non judicial testimonies of former police officers and military who were active during the 1970s in the Southern Cone of Latin America. These specific testimonies of direct perpetrators of extreme violence, which can take the form of ‘memoirs’ or interviews, are compared with a few selected documents of the same type produced with or by former SS members of Nazi Germany. After addressing contextual issues related to the production of the sources, we shall endeavour to present the manner in which committed violence is considered, with the aim to evaluate the degrees of denial present in these narratives ; a denial inherent to all the documents, but nevertheless variable. This requires that we will consider victims of this violence within the speech of their executioners not as a static category, but as part of a multistage process of victimization, ranging from the stigmatization of a reference group to corpse destruction, and often containing elements of detention, torture and death. Therefore, we will be able to show in the different testimonies, the actual stages of victimization mentioned, those very evasively expressed and those completely left unsaid. Finally, we demonstrate the frequent presence of a gap in these narratives between the way in which the victims are mentioned and the actual stage of victimization they should be encountering according to the situation described.