Essay on Obedience in the Holocaust

2090 Words Oct 16th, 2007 9 Pages
The Holocaust is known as one of the most devastating, or perhaps even the most devastating incident in human history. On paper, the dizzying statistics are hard to believe. The mass executions, the terrible conditions, the ruthlessness, and the passivity of the majority of witnesses to the traumatic events all seem like a giant, twisted story blown out of proportion to scare children. But the stories are true, the terror really happened, and ordinary citizens were convinced into doing savage deeds against innocent people. How, one must ask? How could anyone be so pitiless towards their neighbors, their friends? In a time of desperation, when a country was on its knees to the rest of the world, one man not only united Germans against a …show more content…
Perhaps they didn't smash Jewish store windows or beat them in the streets, but they made life unbearable nonetheless. They simply watched. They looked out from their windows, saw the Jews being taken away by the officers, noticed when entire families disappeared. They knew. After the war, when questioned whether they knew the extent of what exactly happened, where those entire families went, the answers were either black or white; either they knew or didn't know. (2) But the knowledge is divided into three degrees: There was ‘visual' knowledge; one could see that the Jews were obviously not there anymore. The second level was realizing that something ‘bad' was happening to the Jews, that they wouldn't just leave of their own accord. If a German were to actually think about it, they would know that something was not right. And the third degree was of course experienced by people who saw the horrors right in front of them, made accurate assumptions, and most certainly, performed the acts themselves. (2) But these ‘watchers', these spectators to the atrocity, could they be held just as responsible for the suffering as the SS officers who delivered the beatings? It has been said that by simply ignoring evil, you are essentially committing evil. But were they acting out of evil, or just supreme fear? These ‘innocent Germans' were never Nazis, and yet, without them, the Nazis would

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