I am learning to remember there once was a person named Gezela Lorinz nee Noilander. She was born in Oradea Mare, Romania, 1885 and died in Auschwitz, 1944, aged 59. May her memory be for a blessing.
Essay 4 #70day70years
by Professor Laurence Rees
You can read the essay by clicking on the title above. Here are my thoughts.
Professor Rees asks the question, how could a cultured society in the middle of the 20th century, participate in the biggest genocide of all time? How could ordinary people with ordinary jobs and families go along with the notion that murdering their neighbours, colleagues, and friends, and their children, was the right thing to do?
Interviewing Nazi war criminals years after they had retired from their jobs and had nothing to lose by telling the truth, Professor Rees was shocked to find that, unlike the men who served under Stalin for example, these men did not hide behind the excuse of following orders. They did not say they were brainwashed or they had to comply in order to save their own lives. They really believed that eliminating the Jews was the key to a peaceful and prosperous Germany in the future. They believed they were killing the root of all evil. They still believed it was the right thing to do. And they were not sorry.
In his book The Pity of It All, Amos Elon, "shows how a persecuted clan of cattle dealers and wandering peddlers was transformed into a stunningly successful community of writers, philosophers, scientists, tycoons, and activists." He goes on to trace, "how a small minority came to be perceived as a deadly threat to German national integrity." The pity of it all was that despite rising to the top echelons of everything and feeling as German as was possible to feel, these emancipated Jews were never more than tolerated.
A group of outsiders who loved German culture almost more than the Germans themselves, were an easy scapegoat for all of society's ills. This had been going on since the end of the Napoleonic wars in 1848 so it was there for Hitler to use to his advantage. How much more immediate and effective it is to fight the enemy on your doorstep than against some mythical threat from across the seas. With brilliant propaganda engineered by Josef Goebbels, the Jews were blamed for the crushing defeat of WW1, the devastating Depression of the 1930s, and portrayed as the biggest obstacle to a brave, new, magnificent, Aryan future.
How many of us have reacted to something online with disgust and commented and shared without checking the facts? I've done it many times although I am learning to be more discerning. Just because it's in print it doesn't mean it's true. But how easy it is to contribute to a snowball effect of hatred based on misinformation. I hope we would stop short of murder but even adding our small flake of incitement could lead to something way beyond our powers of control. I shall think of what mindless believing and following led to in Nazi Germany next time I'm tempted to jump on a bandwagon of protest without checking out the facts for myself.