A Sobering Pre-Pesach Thought
I recently came across a video clip presenting a number of photos taken at Auschwitz during World War II. The images were not gruesome or shocking. They were not gory filled with devastation. In fact, the thing that made the images so striking was their normalcy. In the midst of murder, starvation, and devastation, these pictures reflect joy, laughter, and song. One of the most shocking photos shows Josef Mengele, The Angel of Death, himself, leading the Auschwitz staff in a sing-a-long!
There is a lot of junk psychology out there, telling us that only monsters and psychopaths could have carried out the atrocities of the Holocaust. This idea gives us comfort because we “know” we are not monsters, and therefore, we could never be so foul.
However, the reality is that the Nazis and the German people they ruled, were normal people, just like you and I. They laughed, they loved, they cried… they killed. They did whatever they were conditioned to do, in order to survive. All the while assuring themselves, and each other, that they were of the highest moral and ethical character.
Scholarly speculation on the psychology of the Holocaust almost always concludes by comforting the reader: “The Holocaust was a deviance, an aberration that could never happen again in modern, sanitized, civilized Western society.” But that is a myth, a lie, a fairy tale told so that we can close our eyes at night and sleep, protected from the reality that we might harbor within us the seeds of a new Himmler or a Göring.
One of the rare masterpieces that covers this topic honestly and objectively is entitled “Hitler’s Willing Executioners”, by Daniel Jonah Goldhagen. I encourage everyone with any interest in supporting Israel through bad times, as well as good, to pick up a copy of “Hitler’s Willing Executioners“.
Which side of the fence would you be on, should a new holocaust come to pass?