Ordinary men ? Perpetrators? Silent majority?

Now there is a haunting public call with apparent support for Marxism via socialism. A “new” Americanized “ism” to “give” free college, free healthcare, and a living wage. Those who make these unicorn promises know what they do. Do their supporters understand the requirements? Marxism is the umbrella from which socialism, communism, and fascism are born. These 3 ism’s are merely different paths to the same endpoint. Control and domination of everything and everyone: from your personal healthcare to the kind of toilet and light bulb you are allowed to use.  Marxism requires, mandates, a break in civil society.  Marxism destroys conscience and free choice – civility –  among neighbors and friends.  Why?  Legalized theft, control, and favoritism.

There are public calls for 90+ percent taxes on “the rich”. Every “ism” has done this since Marx penned his manifesto. What is rich? Will the “rich” allow the theft of nearly everything? Logic dictates “of course not.”

Since Marx penned his seductive theory of legalized theft, every nation that uses Marx’ roadmap murders on a genocidal scale.  Every one.  Why?  By design.  Required by design.  To steal from your neighbor is a requirement of Marx’ utopia.  When those being stolen from refuse, they are murdered.  I urge everyone to read Professor Aly observations: (click title for link)
Interview with Dr. Götz Aly, German Historian and Journalist To understand the story of the Holocaust, you have to look closer at the perpetrators to try to understand them as human beings.

There is the question of Holocaust teaching as a tool in dealing with problems of racism today – what do you think about it?

That’s really difficult. In my opinion there is a very hard and deep problem. It’s difficult to make lessons from the story of the Holocaust by simply teaching that it is wrong to kill minorities and that you shouldn’t build gas chambers. You don’t need the Holocaust to know that. Of course, for Israel it’s interesting that perhaps the main thing for Israel is “don’t be a victim in that way again”. This is a result of the Holocaust. But what should I teach young boys and girls in Germany about the Holocaust and racism and genocide today? You know, we have the Uganda and Rwanda cases and Darfur just to name a few genocides. But it is a very different situation. From these cases you can learn that one can intervene earlier and prevent it. For instance, if you talk about the appeasement policy of the British Government in the thirties. You can also talk about the mechanism that there was a social welfare policy, this “feel good” dictatorship in Germany, that is discussed at length in my book “Hitler’s Beneficiaries”.[2]

The problem with Holocaust education is that we are always looking for ways to distance ourselves from the perpetrators as much as possible.

However, we don’t have just the problem of the German perpetrators like Eichmann and other SS men, but we also have this problem of the silent majority, not only in Germany but in every European country. I don’t think antisemitism alone is sufficient to explain it.

We are dealing with human beings with human reactions that are not strange to us. In our everyday life, we try to ignore a lot of the bad sides of human society.

There are two things that are important in my opinion in Holocaust education. One is that people recognize the uniqueness of the Holocaust as a break of civilization. And on the other hand we should look at the little stories and thus feel the uneasy closeness to ourselves.

In Germany in the 60’s and 70’s, we heard about 6,000 public trials against Nazi murderers. In nearly every case there were people the age of our fathers and teachers. These people were not criminals before or continued to be after the Holocaust, but normal people coming from all classes of society, every social position, and all different possible social backgrounds.

A person does not need a special personal history in order to become a mass murderer. Every biography is a little bit open to that. That’s disturbing. You can see this, if you look for instance at trial evidence and testimonies in Daniel Goldhagen’s book.[4] Various historians tried to find a particular profile for the perpetrators, but there is no point. They are trying to find a reason, so that if you find a reason you can fight against it – to make sure it will never happen again. We shouldn’t go that way, this is the wrong way. I am a pessimist.

If you look at the biographies of the perpetrators, for example in the Auschwitz trial files, you will see where the perpetrators were born: more than 50% came as so-called Volksdeutsche [ethnic Germans] in the autumn of 1940, from Bessarabia, Transylvania, and Bukovina.

Most of these transferred families had to stay in camps during the first year because there was no place for them to settle. These were difficult years for them. Then in the end of 1941, when the system of the extermination camps was initiated, the same young men coming from these regions were the only men on the labor market in Germany at that time. They came from a simple, somewhat backward world and had not been indoctrinated with Nazi propaganda before. They were farmers, who used old-fashioned agricultural machinery, very religious. That was their way of life. There is nothing exceptional. If you look at these biographies, you cannot find the special profile of a SS murderer. Christopher Browning[5] writes in his book Ordinary Men about the ordenungspolizei [order police], who were not 18- to 20-year-olds but older men, aged 40-47. They all had a chance while working in these extermination units and camps, to say, “I’m not able to do so. I don’t want it.” Some did and there was no punishment; the units’ commanders said: “Go home, take another position in the Nazi state, we understand this.” They didn’t suffer. There were no repercussions. They got another job and payment was the same as before. There was no risk if they had said, “No, I don’t want to do that.” Sometimes, they were asked “Are you able to do that and if you don’t want to do this, tell us”.

For us this is the most difficult part. One should be aware not to minimize the Holocaust. Pedagogues have to emphasize those sides of the Holocaust that are disturbing in a way; for example, perpetrator life stories, or the possibility of getting away with crimes without paying the price.

We should not concentrate just on the well-known party members, and even Himmler, Hitler, and the people in charge, but to expand the perspective to the whole society and how they got into this, because everyone was involved in a way. For instance, there were SS men who stopped euthanasia killing in Germany[6] because it was against their Christian principles, but the same people were killing Jews. Or the German conspiracy to kill Hitler, but at the same time they were killing Jews two years before in the Soviet Union. There were people helping just the Jewish children, but still convinced that the Jewish question had to be solved.

Was German society aware of the mass murder?

Of course. I said to my parents, “You had to know all this.” “There was the BBC and there was a lot of information.” When he was old, my father told me that he had heard something from an officer that told him in late 1942 that there were mass killings of Jews in the east and that they had to dig their own graves. But my father didn’t want to think about it.

But there is the same problem on the Jewish side. They did not believe it either.

Christian Gerlach and I wrote a book about the deportations and the killing of the Hungarian Jews in 1944. However, the Hungarian Jews in 1944 knew all about it. They had a lot of information because there were Jewish refugees coming to Hungary, in 1942 and 1943, giving reports about what was happening in Poland, and what was the reaction from the Jews? “This is Hungary. This might be happening in Galicia to Polish Jews, but this can’t happen in our very cultivated Hungarian state.

It is impossible that even early in 1944, the Jewish leadership there didn’t have some information about what was happening. There were people escaping from the extermination camps just 80 km from the Hungarian border and there were letters and reports and of course the BBC. I think part of the problem of the Holocaust was that potential victims couldn’t believe the information.

The idea that something so atrocious would come from Germany and from European civilized environment was so unimaginable that they didn’t take it for real, even when they received overwhelming reports from the death camps.

In hindsight the testimonies were so overwhelming that today one might say that people should have realized before. Yes, they had previous experience from the horror propaganda of World War I, such as Germans killing Belgian babies and so on, and that was actually wrong. When Majdanek was liberated in 1944, a BBC reporter was one of the first to enter the camp with the Red Army. When he sent back his story, the central news desk in London did not believe the report and claimed that it was Soviet propaganda.

What do you choose? 

“ordinary man”

“silent majority”

victim”, or




One thought on “Ordinary men ? Perpetrators? Silent majority?

  1. When we fully understand what is happening to Christians and Jews in our world today without crying out against it we are no different than the Germans , Hungarians and the press was during WW2 . Some people then spoke out and took action during those times just as we have that same burden today . Perhaps we are paralyzed by a sense of futility , there is nothing we can do so why bother . I urge us all to take action before it is at our doorstep .

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