17 Feb 2014

Who Would Be a Good Nazi?

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Dorothy Thompson, back in August of 1941, published an article in Harper’s discussing the susceptibility of various types of person to succumbing to the influence of fashion, of conformity, of opportunism, and to the appeal of the mass movement.

It is an interesting and somewhat macabre parlor game to play at a large gathering of one’s acquaintances: to speculate who in a showdown would go Nazi. By now, I think I know. I have gone through the experience many times—in Germany, in Austria, and in France. I have come to know the types: the born Nazis, the Nazis whom democracy itself has created, the certain-to-be fellow-travelers. And I also know those who never, under any conceivable circumstances, would become Nazis.

Wikipedia article on Dorothy Thompson.

Those of us in the Baby Boom generation who lived through the time of the Anti-Vietnam War Movement saw plenty of the kinds of joiners Dorothy Thompson describes.

Hat tip to Karen L. Myers.

One Feedback on "Who Would Be a Good Nazi?"


I think the author missed a very simple fact about human nature. Anyone could be very willing to defend their tribe against another tribe. Even the most peaceful non-confrontational person can be convinced with the right set of truths or propaganda to take up arms and elimnate a threat. The question to ask might well be at what point does someone or most anyone reject the authority once they find out the truth. That would properly identify the evil or sociopath as different from the common man.


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