For anyone unfamiliar with the term “Good Germans,” it refers to citizens of Germany during and after WWII who claimed not to have supported the Nazis, but remained silent and did not resist. Some number of these even claimed to be unaware of the Holocaust, and other war crimes committed by the Third Reich. While there may have once been a shadow of a doubt to be cast on the veracity of those claims, research has shown that most of them did indeed know. There have been many books written about the rise of the Nazis, and the events surrounding it, but I don’t need to go that deep to make my point here. The main thing that I would like you, dear reader, to consider, is this: do you think that all of the Germans who ended up going along with the Nazis started out with the intention of supporting a murderous, fascist regime?
It seems to me that a lot of people, at least here in the US, think that fascism is a problem that other people have. I’m not just talking about the “can’t happen here” mentality, although I think that’s still a problem too. I also can’t help but feel that another part of this is the unwillingness to call what we’re seeing what it is. The problem I’m talking about is related, but is more personal. What I’m talking about is the seemingly absolute confidence that you aren’t a fascist, so everything must be okay. Hopefully, you really aren’t. Hopefully, there is some line that you won’t cross. I just have to say, I find it more than a little disturbing if we haven’t crossed that line yet.
I’m not saying that you’re automatically a fascist if you aren’t out in the streets protesting right now, however, as Desmond Tutu said, “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.” There are ways to get involved without getting out in the streets. Do whatever you think is right, but remember the “Good Germans.”
I leave you with a quote from an interview with Holocaust survivor Werner Reich:
“How could this have happened?” he asked.
He answered his own question. “Because the majority were silent,” he said, adding, “We cannot remain silent.”
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