This is a public notice to the people of a town in Yugoslavia (now in Serbia) by a Nazi commander in 1941.
This was a reprisal attack against the people of the town because some Yugoslav partisans killed 10 Nazi soldiers. The end result was that 2300 residents, who were occupied by Nazi Germany, were executed. Following is the Wikipedia translation into English (I've highlighted the part I'm specifically asking about):
The cowardly and backward raids last week on German soldiers, with 10 killed and 26 wounded, had to be expiated. Therefore, for each killed German soldier 100, for every wounded 50 landlords, especially communists, bandits and their accomplices, altogether 2300, were shot to death. In the future, the same severity will be applied in every similar case, even a sabotage act.
The local commander.
So I can read that in two ways. 1) That the German government or military expiated the wrongdoing or crimes of the Yugoslav partisans; or 2) That the "cowardly" attacks had to be expiated by a lot of the town's residents dying. The first one doesn't sound right to me because I think in every case I've heard "expiate" the expiating was done by the person or persons who did something wrong and had to make up for it in some way; not someone else who did nothing wrong (assuming for this point the Nazis did nothing wrong). The second reading to me doesn't make much sense because it seems that this means that the townspeople expiated the "cowardly" attacks by a group of resistance fighters by simply being murdered by the German military.
I've looked up the definition of "expiate", and this is kind of where this question may split into multiple questions, because the definitions say that "expiate" means to:
- To make amends or reparations
- To atone for
- To redress
I agree that you can "make amends" for someone else's wrongs/mistakes, and also "redress" them, but I'm not so sure about "reparations" or "to atone".
So basically the question is the question in the title, and as "atone" and "making reparations" are shown in the dictionary definitions for "expiate", I'm also wondering whether they can be for someone else. In other words:
- Can you expiate someone else's sins/crimes?
- Can you atone for someone else's sin/crimes?
- Can you make reparations for someone else's sins/crime etc