Machete Season

Machete Season

The Killers in Rwanda Speak : A Report

Book - 2005
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"The genocidal massacre of almost a million people in Rwanda more than a decade ago may be fading into history, but the killers are still with us, and so is the moral problem of trying to understand how such terrible crimes could have been committed. Jean Hatzfeld's account of conversations he had with some of the killers, now convicted and in jail - men who rampaged across the fields, singing as they went, hacking to death 50,000 out of 59,000 of their neighbors - offers extraordinary
insights into the nature of this collective crime. But, as Hatzfeld understands, the killers' words raise as many questions as they answer." "The ten men Hatzfeld interviewed had been friends from childhood who had stayed together during their genocidal "job," as they called it, and then in their flight to exile in Congo, during their subsequent capture and trials, and now in prison. They freely spoke to Hatzfeld about what life had been like during those terrible weeks in the spring of
1994, and what they thought about what they had done." "There has never been a testimony like this. "The offenders know more than the basic facts," one acknowledges. "They have secrets in their souls." Another simply says, "Killing was less wearisome than farming." "A man is like an animal: you give him a whack on the head or neck, and down he goes," says another. Why where they willing to talk? Did they distinguish truth from self-defensive evasion about this gruesome killing spree? Did
they seek reconciliation, forgiveness, understanding? Were they remorseless, or did they suffer the nightmares of the damned?" "Hatzfeld's report on this horrific testimony is humane and wise, and he relates the unprecedented material he obtained from the genocidaires to what we know of other war crimes and genocidal episodes. It has sometimes been suggested that only depraved and monstrous men could perpetrate such crimes, but it may be, Hatzfeld suggests, that these terrible actions are
within the realm of ordinary human conduct."--BOOK JACKET.
Publisher: New York : Farrar, Straus and Giroux, c2005
ISBN: 0374280827 (alk. paper)
Branch Call Number: 967.571043 HAT
Characteristics: xiv, 253 p. : ill. ; 22 cm


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Aug 20, 2018

"The first day, a messenger from the municipal judge went house to house summoning us to a meeting right away. There the judge announced that the reason for the meeting was the killing of every Tutsi without exception. It was simply said, and it was simple to understand."

Simply said, simply understood, and simple to carry out. For the next few weeks, Pancrace Hakizamungli and his Hutu friends and neighbors from the Nyamata district of Rwanda, sometimes assisted and encouraged by troops sent by the government but often on their own, methodically hunted down and slaughtered thousands of Tutsi men, women, and children who had, until recently, also been their neighbors. Most of the killings were carried out by machete, the tool that the killers were most comfortable with, the one they used in their everyday work, clearing land and butchering animals, proving equally handy for butchering people.

Machete Season is Jean Hatzfeld's second oral history of the Rwandan genocide - the first, Life Laid Bare, presented the experiences of the victims. The former is, as might be expected, even more horrific than the latter, both due to the inclusion of atrocities no victim survived to speak of and the insight into the minds of the genocidaires. For the perpetrators, the killing season, in retrospect, acquires the character of a holiday. Ordinary work and even church services were suspended - the men spent their days killing, the women looting, the children helping both, all living off the property of the victims. Indeed, as the Tutsis controlled most of the Rwandan cattle, the plundering Hutus feasted on a previously undreamt-of quantity of meat. Mass murder was not a distasteful task, but something they took pleasure in.

Nov 28, 2013

I do not like how Hatzfeld presented his study. It does not seem as if either he nor the interviewees were capable of understanding or analyzing the root causes of participation in the Rwandan genocide.


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