They Thought They Were Free: The Germans, 1933-45

Category: Humanities
Author: Milton Mayer
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by Human_Bean_Juice   2019-11-17

At the time Hitler took over Germany, the population of Germany was ~77 million. He took over with the support of only 1 million people. That's less than 10% of the German population. I got this information from the book I linked to above: https://www.amazon.com/They-Thought-Were-Free-Germans/dp/0226511928.

I do admit I find myself, at times, incredulous that it could happen here, but sounding the alarm now is most definitely not conspiratorial.

by LilSucBoi   2019-11-17

I recommend They Thought They Were Free. Its not exactly about the Wehrmacht, but its a profile of 10 average germans before, during and after the years of nazi occupation. Very good glimpse into how you can go from a normal teenager into a book burning Nazi under the right circumstances and lack of morals.

by Human_Bean_Juice   2019-11-17

That's not what the person is saying. I suggest you reread the above comment. He/She did not say a smaller space was worse. They said it's where it starts. It doesn't gradually get better, you see. It gradually gets worse.

I recommend reading this if you disagree: https://www.press.uchicago.edu/Misc/Chicago/511928.html

Or the full book: https://www.amazon.com/They-Thought-Were-Free-Germans/dp/0226511928

That book will knock you on your ass.

by FenrirReleased   2019-11-17

Relevant; They know what they're doing. And how we will react.

>"Each act, each occasion, is worse than the last, but only a little worse. You wait for the next and the next. You wait for one great shocking occasion, thinking that others, when such a shock comes, will join with you in resisting somehow. You don't want to act, or even talk, alone; you don't want to 'go out of your way to make trouble.' Why not?-Well, you are not in the habit of doing it. And it is not just fear, fear of standing alone, that restrains you; it is also genuine uncertainty. Uncertainty is a very important factor, and, instead of decreasing as time goes on, it grows. Outside, in the streets, in the general community, 'everyone' is happy. One hears no protest, and certainly sees none. You know, in France or Italy there would be slogans against the government painted on walls and fences; in Germany, outside the great cities, perhaps, there is not even this. In the university community, in your own community, you speak privately to your colleagues, some of whom certainly feel as you do; but what do they say? They say, 'It's not so bad' or 'You're seeing things' or 'You're an alarmist.'
>
>And you are an alarmist. You are saying that this must lead to this, and you can't prove it. These are the beginnings, yes; but how do you know for sure when you don't know the end, and how do you know, or even surmise, the end? On the one hand, your enemies, the law, the regime, the Party, intimidate you. On the other, your colleagues pooh-pooh you as pessimistic or even neurotic. You are left with your close friends, who are, naturally, people who have always thought as you have....
>
>But the one great shocking occasion, when tens or hundreds or thousands will join with you, never comes. That's the difficulty. If the last and worst act of the whole regime had come immediately after the first and smallest, thousands, yes, millions would have been sufficiently shocked-if, let us say, the gassing of the Jews in '43 had come immediately after the 'German Firm' stickers on the windows of non-Jewish shops in '33. But of course this isn't the way it happens. In between come all the hundreds of little steps, some of them imperceptible, each of them preparing you not to be shocked by the next. Step C is not so much worse than Step B, and, if you did not make a stand at Step B, why should you at Step C? And so on to Step D.
>
>And one day, too late, your principles, if you were ever sensible of them, all rush in upon you. The burden of self-deception has grown too heavy, and some minor incident, in my case my little boy, hardly more than a baby, saying 'Jewish swine,' collapses it all at once, and you see that everything, everything, has changed and changed completely under your nose. The world you live in - your nation, your people - is not the world you were born in at all. The forms are all there, all untouched, all reassuring, the houses, the shops, the jobs, the mealtimes, the visits, the concerts, the cinema, the holidays. But the spirit, which you never noticed because you made the lifelong mistake of identifying it with the forms, is changed. Now you live in a world of hate and fear, and the people who hate and fear do not even know it themselves; when everyone is transformed, no one is transformed. Now you live in a system which rules without responsibility even to God. The system itself could not have intended this in the beginning, but in order to sustain itself it was compelled to go all the way."

  • Milton Mayer

They Thought They Were Free: The Germans 1933-1945

by recycleaccount38   2019-11-17

Something that certainly shows the rhymes between today and 20th century history worth checking out might be "They Thought They Were Free: The Germans, 1933-45" by Milton Mayer

https://www.amazon.com/They-Thought-Were-Free-Germans/dp/0226511928

This is a long excerpt (and I'm sure some of you already know it) but I think it's really, really important to read this and think about it:

>"And you are an alarmist. You are saying that this must lead to this, and you can’t prove it. These are the beginnings, yes; but how do you know for sure when you don’t know the end, and how do you know, or even surmise, the end? On the one hand, your enemies, the law, the regime, the Party, intimidate you. On the other, your colleagues pooh-pooh you as pessimistic or even neurotic. You are left with your close friends, who are, naturally, people who have always thought as you have.

>"But your friends are fewer now. Some have drifted off somewhere or submerged themselves in their work. You no longer see as many as you did at meetings or gatherings. Informal groups become smaller; attendance drops off in little organizations, and the organizations themselves wither. Now, in small gatherings of your oldest friends, you feel that you are talking to yourselves, that you are isolated from the reality of things. This weakens your confidence still further and serves as a further deterrent to—to what? It is clearer all the time that, if you are going to do anything, you must make an occasion to do it, and then you are obviously a troublemaker. So you wait, and you wait.

>"But the one great shocking occasion, when tens or hundreds or thousands will join with you, never comes. That’s the difficulty. If the last and worst act of the whole regime had come immediately after the first and smallest, thousands, yes, millions would have been sufficiently shocked—if, let us say, the gassing of the Jews in ’43 had come immediately after the ‘German Firm’ stickers on the windows of non-Jewish shops in ’33. But of course this isn’t the way it happens. In between come all the hundreds of little steps, some of them imperceptible, each of them preparing you not to be shocked by the next. Step C is not so much worse than Step B, and, if you did not make a stand at Step B, why should you at Step C? And so on to Step D.

>"And one day, too late, your principles, if you were ever sensible of them, all rush in upon you. The burden of self-deception has grown too heavy, and some minor incident, in my case my little boy, hardly more than a baby, saying ‘Jewish swine,’ collapses it all at once, and you see that everything, everything, has changed and changed completely under your nose. The world you live in—your nation, your people—is not the world you were born in at all. The forms are all there, all untouched, all reassuring, the houses, the shops, the jobs, the mealtimes, the visits, the concerts, the cinema, the holidays. But the spirit, which you never noticed because you made the lifelong mistake of identifying it with the forms, is changed. Now you live in a world of hate and fear, and the people who hate and fear do not even know it themselves; when everyone is transformed, no one is transformed. Now you live in a system which rules without responsibility even to God. The system itself could not have intended this in the beginning, but in order to sustain itself it was compelled to go all the way.

>"You have gone almost all the way yourself. Life is a continuing process, a flow, not a succession of acts and events at all. It has flowed to a new level, carrying you with it, without any effort on your part. On this new level you live, you have been living more comfortably every day, with new morals, new principles. You have accepted things you would not have accepted five years ago, a year ago, things that your father, even in Germany, could not have imagined.

>"Suddenly it all comes down, all at once. You see what you are, what you have done, or, more accurately, what you haven’t done (for that was all that was required of most of us: that we do nothing). You remember those early meetings of your department in the university when, if one had stood, others would have stood, perhaps, but no one stood. A small matter, a matter of hiring this man or that, and you hired this one rather than that. You remember everything now, and your heart breaks. Too late. You are compromised beyond repair.

by icraig91   2019-11-17

If you don't think it's happening.. go read this:

https://www.amazon.com/They-Thought-Were-Free-Germans/dp/0226511928

by marketd   2019-07-21

Out of interest what do you think IS the point at which a democracy becomes a dictatorship?

There is an interesting book called "they thought they were free - amazon link"

Which documents how Germany went from a democracy to a a dictatorship. What becomes apparent was that there were no single point that marked the transition.

“What happened here was the gradual habituation of the people, little by little, to being governed by surprise; to receiving decisions deliberated in secret; to believing that the situation was so complicated that the government had to act on information which the people could not understand, or so dangerous that, even if the people could not understand it, it could not be released because of national security. And their sense of identification with Hitler, their trust in him, made it easier to widen this gap and reassured those who would otherwise have worried about it.”--from Chapter 13, “But Then It Was Too Late”

by marketd   2019-07-21

Out of interest what do you think IS the point at which a democracy becomes a dictatorship?

There is an interesting book called "they thought they were free - amazon link"

Which documents how Germany went from a democracy to a a dictatorship. What becomes apparent was that there were no single points that marked the transition.

by Siganid   2019-07-21

Admittedly, I wasn't there.

I can only read about it. Books such as:

https://www.amazon.com/They-Thought-Were-Free-Germans/dp/0226511928

Personally, while it seems obvious that the most direct descended ideology we have today is intersectional feminism because of their constant dogwhistling of "The Future is Female" which is even more severe than Hitler, who publicly claimed to only want to "expel jews from germany peacefully" I take solace in the fact that fascism does seem to require a poverty stricken populace to get going. This is a frustration to "neo-marxists" or "post-modernists" or even "1776 pt.2 revolutionaries" who hope for war but solace to reasonable people who hope for peace.

Us bread-stuffed americans are pretty unlikely to march anywhere when the circus is on tv.

To bring it back to the tragedy in New Zealand, this also should have discouraged the shooter, because Americans have already shown they will accept an assault weapons ban, and the additional harm it causes to them, without the revolt he sought.

We're too wealthy, too fat, and too entertained to start ww3. I hope.

by lstutzman   2018-11-10

This ^^^

https://toptalkedbooks.com/amzn/0226511928

by FlexFromPlanetX   2018-11-10

This continues to age well:

>"Each act, each occasion, is worse than the last, but only a little worse. You wait for the next and the next. You wait for one great shocking occasion, thinking that others, when such a shock comes, will join with you in resisting somehow. You don't want to act, or even talk, alone; you don't want to 'go out of your way to make trouble.' Why not?-Well, you are not in the habit of doing it. And it is not just fear, fear of standing alone, that restrains you; it is also genuine uncertainty. Uncertainty is a very important factor, and, instead of decreasing as time goes on, it grows. Outside, in the streets, in the general community, 'everyone' is happy. One hears no protest, and certainly sees none. You know, in France or Italy there would be slogans against the government painted on walls and fences; in Germany, outside the great cities, perhaps, there is not even this. In the university community, in your own community, you speak privately to your colleagues, some of whom certainly feel as you do; but what do they say? They say, 'It's not so bad' or 'You're seeing things' or 'You're an alarmist.'

>And you are an alarmist. You are saying that this must lead to this, and you can't prove it. These are the beginnings, yes; but how do you know for sure when you don't know the end, and how do you know, or even surmise, the end? On the one hand, your enemies, the law, the regime, the Party, intimidate you. On the other, your colleagues pooh-pooh you as pessimistic or even neurotic. You are left with your close friends, who are, naturally, people who have always thought as you have....

>But the one great shocking occasion, when tens or hundreds or thousands will join with you, never comes. That's the difficulty. If the last and worst act of the whole regime had come immediately after the first and smallest, thousands, yes, millions would have been sufficiently shocked-if, let us say, the gassing of the Jews in '43 had come immediately after the 'German Firm' stickers on the windows of non-Jewish shops in '33. But of course this isn't the way it happens. In between come all the hundreds of little steps, some of them imperceptible, each of them preparing you not to be shocked by the next. Step C is not so much worse than Step B, and, if you did not make a stand at Step B, why should you at Step C? And so on to Step D.

>And one day, too late, your principles, if you were ever sensible of them, all rush in upon you. The burden of self-deception has grown too heavy, and some minor incident, in my case my little boy, hardly more than a baby, saying 'Jewish swine,' collapses it all at once, and you see that everything, everything, has changed and changed completely under your nose. The world you live in - your nation, your people - is not the world you were born in at all. The forms are all there, all untouched, all reassuring, the houses, the shops, the jobs, the mealtimes, the visits, the concerts, the cinema, the holidays. But the spirit, which you never noticed because you made the lifelong mistake of identifying it with the forms, is changed. Now you live in a world of hate and fear, and the people who hate and fear do not even know it themselves; when everyone is transformed, no one is transformed. Now you live in a system which rules without responsibility even to God. The system itself could not have intended this in the beginning, but in order to sustain itself it was compelled to go all the way."

  • Milton Mayer

They Thought They Were Free: The Germans 1933-1945

by cespinar   2018-11-10

read some books, I suggest starting here: https://toptalkedbooks.com/amzn/0226511928

by eldude   2018-02-28
I highly recommend the excellent

“They Thought They Were Free”

For perspective on what it feels like to become a nazi.

https://www.amazon.com/They-Thought-Were-Free-Germans/dp/022...

by Harkins   2017-08-19
Yarvin's having a laugh at all of you.

Early in the article:

> What is an app, anyway? It's shared computing. Everyone's data is one data structure, in one program, on one server, owned by one corporation.

This is a callout to the Nazi slogan Ein Volk, ein Reich, ein Führer: https://www.amazon.com/They-Thought-Were-Free-Germans/dp/022... [1]: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YIp-0V6YKfQ

He's laughing at you because he knows the technical and political are inseparable, and the longer you think so the longer he gets to use you.