Heil Hitler Episode 4

Nowadays, it is quite difficult to understand why people did not stand up to Hitler and the Nazi party in larger numbers.  The truth is, though, that it is a very difficult to deal with situations which are evil beyond belief. A little bit of cooking the books and stealing small sums of money from the Church Accounts is one thing, but these men were Satan’s Inner Council. They did not hesitate to kill people in thousands, if not hundreds of thousands. If not millions. If not tens of millions:

belsen

Or just one at a time:

one

No matter how evil or how terrifying these crazies became, though, there was still no shortage of brave Germans willing to stand up and be counted.
Look at these Germans here. At first glance, everybody is Heil Hitlering and Seig Heiling, and singing the company song:

We love you Adolf, we do,
We love you Adolf, we do,
We love you Adolf, we do,
O Adolf, we love you!

But look very carefully.  This is the football crowd at the England-Germany game at White Hart Lane, the home of Tottenham Hotspur, in December 1935 . A number of people appear not to be joining in with the general joy and merriment. There are about ten of them altogether. When you look more carefully, they seem, perhaps, to have all different motives for their non-participation:

german-football-supporters-giving-the-nazi-salute-during-the-international-match-against-england-at-white-hart-lane-london-december-1935

Disgust with their fellow citizens. Unwillingness to join in. Curiosity at the situation.  Puzzlement at why some other people are not joining in. Puzzlement at who is taking the photograph:

close up mny dissds

Apparently, then, no one single motive. But at least one of them, if not more, have the purposeful expression of a good man who has resolved not to do nothing any longer:

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And as well as good, these are brave men. Brave anti-Nazi German men. We tend to forget nowadays, but there were lots of them. And brave anti-Nazi German women too. And boys. And girls.

Sophie Scholl who has more schools named after her in Germany than Franz Beckenbauer:

scholl

Her brother Hans:

HansScholl

Not everybody follows the rest. Not everybody wants to be evil. Some people will make their own protest. It may not be anything particularly spectacular, but it may well be extremely brave.

As we shall see next time.

 

 

 

 

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12 Comments

Filed under Criminology, History, Politics

12 responses to “Heil Hitler Episode 4

  1. jackchatterley

    The pity is that there were not (many) more Stauffenbergs, Osters, Canaris ajd Niemöllers…

    • You are absolutely right and it is a very great pity. But don’t forget that Hitler had by, say, 1935 or 1936, got rid of all the likeliest people to oppose him. Most of the socialists and communists who had fought the Nazis on the streets of the old Weimar Republic had by now been either murdered or sent to concentration camps. I suppose that the problem then arose of having to expect the remaining people, all moderates in politics presumably, to stand up and go against a very strong flow. But a surprising number of people did. And thanks a lot for your comment by the way, it is much appreciated.

      • jackchatterley

        Indeed. The fault lied in those who though that they could control Hitler through the rules of democracy.

        It’s a pleasure to read your blog.

  2. We humans are like sheep and the majority will sadly go with the flow. It takes a very brave person to stand up to someone like Hitler especially when they are so openly brutal.

    • Absolutely. I found out the other day that the man whose farm was seized to make Hitler a bigger holiday home didn’t like it and said so. That was a one way trip to the concentration camp at Dachau. And it was only in 1936 or so, well before Hitler really got into gear.

  3. Those pictures, as truly horrific as they are, serve as a reminder to us all that we must never allow this to happen again. I visited Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp as a younger man. The memories of that place have stayed with me for over 20 years.

    • I’ve never been to a concentration camp, but a friend of mine once went to Auschwitz on a cold February day and he said it was quite unbelievable. I promised an old Auschwitz survivor many years ago that I would tell people about this appalling episode in history, and I’m still carrying that out! Thanks a lot for your contribution, by the way.

  4. There were a series of experiments carried out in the 1950s and 60s trying to understand why supposedly “good men” could do heinous acts such as what happened with the German people under Nazism. They had a volunteer who believed he was participating in an education experiment centered around the use of electric shocks for wrong answers to questions. In reality the person getting the shocks was a part of the research team. With each wrong answer the strength of the shock got higher and higher until becoming “lethal”.

    They found that while some strong willed individuals refused to continue when the other man appeared to be in pain (of course he was acting) the vast majority of people continued with the experiment when the experimenter exerted their authority and told them they had to do as he was instructed and administer the lethal shocks. Remember, these people believed they were killing someone at this point.

    The results have largely questioned the belief that “I was following orders” is not an adequate excuse for committing atrocities but in international law it is still a crime regardless – as it should be

  5. Absolutely! I’m fairly sure too, that if Germans said they did not want to do certain duties then they were transferred elsewhere without too many questions asked. If pressed though, I would have to admit that that is a fairly dim memory and I’m sure that some of the naysayers must have finished up on the Eastern Front.

  6. Chris Waller

    Plato advised that “those who seek power should never be allowed to wield it”. Polybius echoed the sentiment: “Those who achieve power are far more numerous that those who know how to use it wisely.” The history of civilisation is a catalogue of madmen seeking, gaining and abusing power: Hitler, Stalin, Mussolini, Mao, Pol Pot, Saddam Hussein, Gaddafi, Bokassa … the list goes on. I met a woman back in the 1970s whose father had been conscripted into the SS. He was offered a choice – join, or you and your family go to the gas-chambers. It would be a brave soul who said ‘no’.

    • In my opinion the best ruler was Napoleon. If you ever get a chance to see Andrew Roberts’ TV programmes from BBC2, they explain very fully what he was trying to do. Apart from him, very few rulers have been outstanding although that rule will be no doubt be broken whoever becomes the next president. And thanks a lot for your contribution, by the way, it is much appreciated.

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