70 years ago this week German troops marched into
In the midst of this wounded state, a young Austrian recovered from a mustard gas attack in a field hospital. He had joined the 16th Bavarian Reserve Regiment at the start of the war and went on to receive the Iron Cross First Class; one of the highest decorations a german soldier can receive. After the war he remained in the army and moved to
In 1923 Hitler let a failed coup against the Bavarian government. While the coup massively damaged the party’s reputation, the public spectacle of his trial only increased Hitler’s popularity. During his one year in prison he wrote Mein Kampf in which he outlined his extreme, nationalist ideology. When he was released, on the back of his increased popularity, Hitler wet about rebuilding the Party, determined to win power legitimately through the democratic system he so hated.
Over the next decade, due in part to Hitler’s oratory and his appeal to the good old days before the War when
It did not take long for Hitler to introduce Bill to make him the effective dictator of
In 1939 Nazi Germany invaded
This is not an excuse. The Nazis never received the vote of the majority of German citizens; they ruled
Evil is not something that can be compromised with. It must be stood against with unwavering conviction. If we learn anything from the Second World War, we learn that apathy in the face of unremitting evil is almost as bad as evil itself. While the monsters who tortured and killed Jews in the camps are unforgivably evil, what is more disturbing to the refusal by Germans, who simply followed the crowd and did what was easy, to think for themselves and see past the propaganda, to discover the true evil of the Nazis and stand against it. The responsibility for the atrocities of the Holocaust lies, at least in part, with those army officers who ‘were simply following orders’, because simply following orders is not good enough. We are all responsible for our actions, it is our responsibility to stand up against injustice, not simply fall in and go along with what everyone else is doing.
As rational humans being we have a responsibility to ourselves to stand up for what we believe to be right, if we do not then we give sanction to those who would commit acts as monstrous as those committed in the holocaust. If we sanction these acts, can we really claim to be any better than those who commit them? History is littered with examples of evil, committed because of the unthinking consent of people who should have known better. Conformity may be safe and it may be easy, but as free thinking, rational being, we should seek to do what is right, not what is easy. Evil is almost never in the majority, evil is the insanity of a few, sanctioned by the apathy of everyone else. The insane we cannot stop; the apathy we can. The consequences if we do not are painted vividly in history; the events of 70 years ago are only one example.