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The Complaisancy of the German Nation!

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Priming Germans for the Holocaust

I hope you had the chance to watch the History Channel special this week, “Engineering Evil,” that is devoted to the process of how the Nazis carried out the Holocaust. There were details of how the whole exterminations process was planned and we learned about things like crematorium design. But another kind of engineering “” call it human.  A plan to destroy the whole Jewish race, with knowledge and participation far beyond the Military.

The Nazi plan required a populace that was, at best, willing to look the other way and, at worst, a participant. The program documents how the Nazis began creating that reality even before their military expansion started, removing Jews from jobs in education, medicine and other fields and demonizing them in all sorts of propaganda. That included as infamous a board game as has ever been produced: the supposedly family-friendly Jews Out, from 1936. The winner was the person who accumulated the most Jews for deportation.

The program aggressively challenges the “just following orders” defense and the notion that “ordinary” Germans were not at fault in the Holocaust. “After the Jews were sent off, people moved into their homes, took over their businesses,” says Michael Berenbaum of American Jewish University. “So on some level the local populations understood these people were not coming back.”

The program also conveys that the effort to exterminate Jews was an evolving phenomenon that required people “” not all of them Nazis “” to design and build the infrastructure of trains, gas chambers and ovens to do the deed. The Nazis and their enablers tackled the Holocaust with a problem-solving ethos not unlike what we associate with the Manhattan Project or the lunar landing.

Bottom line.  There was full support and participation by thousands of average Germans, way beyond the military.  The stain on the soul of the German nation is still there and will be for years to come.  Germans today are stuck with this stain, all because of “the sins of their fathers.”Â  Least we not forget.

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