~ A while back at coffee I met the father of a friend of mine…..he is a holocaust survivor. A Jewish immigrant following WWII, he built a successful business here in the United States, and according to my friend, his father “doesn’t like to talk about the Holocaust”.
Although he was only a small child when he was put in the Nazi concentration camp (yes, he has the tattoo that forever marked his life), I can’t even begin to comprehend the horror he and his family suffered.
Conversations about WWII and the Holocaust tend to focus on two things; war and the horrors of the concentration camps. Lost in the mix of the conversation is, what I believe, to be one of the most amazing issues that faced an entire country; waking up the morning after the war was over Germans were told that everything they believed was evil and immoral.
Imagine for a moment what that must have been like, going all those years being told that Jews “deserved” their fate, that the mentally ill, and homosexuals, and Jews ALL deserved to be treated worse than animals. The Germans were taught to believe;
—) it was “good” and “moral” to murder men, women, and children
—) it was “good” to kill Jewish people in cold blood right in the middle of the street
—) it was “good” to murder men, women and children in showers with electricity
—) it was “good” to terrorize and brutally attempt to wipe from the face of the earth an entire race of people
Imagine for a moment, being taught day after day that those things were “good”…..and then waking up after the Allied forces conquered you in the war to be told, “No, what you did was NOT good, it was NOT moral, it was UGLY and EVIL”.
Imagine what it must have been like for the Germans to have believed with all their hearts what they had been told, and then one day to be told that what they believed was IMMORAL.
What must that be like, to find out that your entire worldview was not merely wrong….but IMMORAL and EVIL?
It was no small matter.
The same thing happened following the end of the Civil War here in the United States. For more than a hundred years many white Americans were taught from their youth, that blacks “DESERVED” to be slaves, that blacks were not fully human. Then one day, millions of white Americans were told that what they believed was not merely wrong, it was IMMORAL and EVIL.
What must it be like to go to sleep one day adhering to beliefs that you believe to be “GOOD” and “MORAL”, only to wake up the next day to be told that what you believe is “EVIL” and “IMMORAL”?
What must it have been like to be a German at the end of WWII?
A couple mornings ago we all woke up to a video in which a prominent Planned Parenthood Doctor casually discussed how she kills babies in the wombs of their mothers, making sure not to harm the bodies too much, so that she will be able to sell the body parts of these babies to various people around the country.
A couple nights ago, dear reader, you went to sleep believing that Planned Parenthood was a “MORAL”, and “GOOD” organization…..and then you woke up dear reader to find out that Planned Parenthood is the very essence of “EVIL” and IMMORALITY”.
As Andrew Isker writes, “Deborah Nucatola casually describing how she carefully takes a forceps to kill the baby but be gentle enough so as to not ruin its organs is bone chilling”
What was it like to be a German at the end of WWII and find out what they believed was entirely wrong?
Dear reader, the Germans were people like you and me. We are no more superior than them any more than white people are superior to black people. And if you believe that you are more superior than the Germans, than I fear for your soul……..because the minute you begin believing you are better than someone else, is the minute history begins to repeat itself.
Just a few thoughts as I sipped my coffee,
Categories: Culture & Society
I feel empathy for the groups you discuss, but we all have a choice. The German people chose to follow the orders, and look the other way while the smoke from burning corpses filled their little towns. When people act in a fashion that is lacking in humanity, they have decided to do so, in some corner of their mind. Being raised around hateful racists and German Americans, I chose not to follow orders they gave me and love people instead.
I fully realize the power of choice, but it is really fair to slump everything in that bucket in this case?
The Germans that did not choose to follow orders in that period rarely had a chance to broadcast their opinions. Those who feared these drastic results lived in a constant state of cognitive dissonance- your life, your family that depends on you and that would be branded as traitors as well…it’s a very cruel way to instill loyalty.
When the Third Reich began telling people that Jews deserved their fate some Germans disagreed and the Third Reich killed Germans. During the horrors some Germans hid Jews because they knew it was wrong to kill them. People know there is a moral choice to take. Some follow orders from hate, some from fear and some don’t follow those orders at all.
Germany should have woken up after the war to be told what had happened was wrong, evil and immoral and they should have known it anyway, it should not have come as a surprise.
I understand that when the U.S. had abolitionists for slavery the Underground Railroad helping escaped slaves had plenty of white people who knew that slavery was wrong despite the prevailing attitude of others. People can always make the choices between the moral choice or the immoral.Everything depends on your own attitude of superiority or of equality. After decades of teaching that people are equal in the U.S. there are still those who believe to be white is to be superior because they refuse to accept proof to the contrary.
Clear and the tone was conversational but it was underlined by an ominous message. Excellent post, a little shocking.
I knew a woman who fled Germany. She was not a Jew. She said that she did not believe in the beginning that they were torturing and burning Jews (sounds a bit like some here in the states about our torture practices, no?) Then she could smell it. She knew it was not right. She and her husband had little money but they fled, nonentheless. They did not want to be part of it, and when they began living here in the states, they were ashamed to be German. I know that I have friends all over the world, and apologize for what we do as war machines. I apologize for the torture, I work to end the torture, and to end the absence of our rights to due process, etc., which we have in this country under constitutional law. They had a point where the Germans or the USA citizens may not have known; then they did. I do. And BTW, I may be a Buddhist now, but I was raised a Christian. I grew up with Methodist and Catholic teachings on what Jesus said. No Christian can justify bad actions, hatred, torture, stoning, et all with those teachings, period. I cut them slack as some are not able to leave — my husband and I could not leave the USA. But do not try to tell me they didn’t know it was wrong. And if they did, JUST AS IT IS HERE NOW, then they are deplorable human beings.
And fanatics here try to justify things in the name of God. Listen at your peril.
Life can be either a dream or a nightmare.
Glad to see u back keep on sending ur messages really enjoyurcomments Jo gleeson
Everything we do in life is seen through perceptive filters. There is an arguably fine line between not imposing our own beliefs on entire societies and protecting the well-being of the many. Sometimes what we do, thinking it is in someone else’s best interest, only makes things worse. Not that I think what the German’s did was acceptable at all, not even a little, but what were the underlying circumstances that created an environment that would foster such hatred and contempt for people who weren’t really that much different. I would argue that it all stems from insecurity. Insecurity is a driving force in most oppressive actions. I oppress you so I can feel secure myself. I reinforce that belief through repetition and propaganda so that I can drown out the insecure thoughts that whisper to me that I might be wrong. I scream louder and act more oppressive so no one notices, or hears that whisper themselves. Being oppressive and hateful will never drown out that insecurity though. Until we can eradicate that insecurity there will be the tendency for hatred and oppression and immoral actions. We have such a small planet for all these people, dwindling resources, crumbling economies…all the ingredients to create wide-spread insecurity. I am genuinely afraid for humanity’s future. As to the last part of your blog entry, help me to understand why anyone cares if PP, or any of the other clinics not discussed in the sensationalized articles, chooses to send fetal tissue they would otherwise just incinerate or throw away to labs to be used for research?
Glad to see you writing here again!
On the topic of Germany, one of my friends has said, “At the time Germany was the most well educated people in the world and it didn’t protect them one iota [From making the mistakes of WWII and the Holocaust].” He says this, bringing up the issue of education because many people think education can protect us from immorality. Even Aristotle thought that education made moral people – and he thought that when education failed to persuade individuals we needed the coercion if the law (See, Nicomachean Ethics, Book 10 Chapter 9) . Education, while it isn’t evil, it does not instruct our hearts. We can ‘know’ what is right and still fail to do what is right [The 1977 NYC Blackout looting seems like another example]. All the time people are getting caught up in the “mentality of the moment” – people look at the actions of their surrounding neighbors and follow through in the same mentality. “Normality” seems to shape us deeply, as we seek the approval of those around us.
Maybe it is only in a boldness, or compassionate criticism that we can escape some of these mistakes as they go on today. Fear often freezes our ability to consider, or even see if things are right or wrong.
Well, I’m sure we’d all like to believe that we can think for ourselves, that we’ll know right from wrong in spite of what “they” tell us to believe. We tell ourselves that, but I suppose we can’t know until we’re held up against the light of history. What things might you believe right now, this very minute, that years from now will be viewed differently? I’d like to believe that I’m rational enough to make my own decisions, and I’m thankful that I live in a society that is free enough to allow freedom of thought. But who knows? History has a way of showing that thinking human beings were sometimes nothing more than sheep.
I think sleepy human beings or naive human beings might follow like sheep, but you would be hard pressed to talk me into genocide, period. Or torture, and that includes what we are doing now in the USA.
I am a Jew and I find talking about the Holocaust is a bit tender.
I agree. XO
Well said, Kenneth.
Very interesting, Kenneth.
This reminds me very much about a friend of mine named Jenny Westberg. Yes, that’s a name that’s web searchable– try it, and you may find some articles she wrote on mental health issues, perhaps some of the same ones she and I discussed. No, seriously, look her up– she might have some insights that might be worth your while to discuss here.
But what I find particularly intriguing– that is, what’s relevant to your point– is that she did some artwork (for an article written by another writer) to illustrate the reality of partial birth abortions, and she shared those and her thoughts with me. They were not gratuitously grotesque in details, but they did show things rather plainly. If you want, I’ll see if I can find them again.
I can’t remember clearly, but I think this might have been one of the things that put her in odds with certain feminist circles (as she has identified as a feminist). I’m glossing over several other details that I can’t recall right now. A further twist is that she’s ethnically Jewish, raised atheist (she told me her parents were particularly contemptuous and mocking of religion), but is now Catholic in her spiritual convictions. I don’t know if I can reach her now (we’ve never met, although she lives not too far away from me, but we’ve spoken by phone), yet, I think she’d have a lot to say on this subject. I will e-mail her your article, and we’ll see, I guess, if she wishes to respond.
Oh, wait! The video embedded in the article you linked to– I’m pretty sure the illustrations cut in with the recorded footage– yeah, I’m pretty sure those are hers, actually.
the key is not to be complacent – or history repeats itself. I wonder about a guy I work with who uses religion as a guise for intolerance to a number of faces of humanity. He would rather die in the self belief he is right than think about what he is saying and the impact on others