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James Agee on public reaction to Nazi atrocity films

We cannot bear to face our knowledge that the satisfaction of our desire for justice, which we confuse with our desire for vengeance, is impossible. And so we invent as a victim the most comprehensive image which our reason, however deranged, will permit us: the whole of a people and the descendants of that people; and count ourselves incomparably their superior because we stop short of the idea of annihilation.

James Agee, on public reaction to Nazi atrocity films, and calls for a peace of vengeance (May 19, 1945, in the Nation magazine)