Wednesday, January 28, 2015

4 The Nazis #70days70years

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.


  1. Hi- just found your blog and read your post. I am from Switzerland and I asked myself many times the questions of how apparantly normal people could turn into mosters. And it makes me sad that today this is still something that can happen and is happening. As you state- it is easy to believe something you read or hear without checking the facts. Today this is even easier than ever- in the age of the internet you can choose what you want to hear and read- whetever fits your beliefs or ideology. You can easliy and conveniantly filter out any other opinion. And it is harder tha ever to know what the tru facts are. I also think that if people hear enough times "xxx are bad people and they are to be blamed for everything", they actually start to believe it.... very scary.

  2. I'ts so true what you say about being able to read only that which fits in with what you want to believe. I think many people do this - it's easier and it doesn't require you to think at all. Thank you for your insightful comment.

  3. It's an appalling side to human nature and something that I think we all need to remember now more than ever, not just because of the internet, but because so many people are becoming afraid of the future and some may be ready to be offered a scapegoat for their current problems

    1. You are right, it's scary how human nature is willing to grasp at a scapegoat when things get tough. Thanks for commenting Candi.