Tuesday, March 29, 2016

It's a Job. A Monstrous Job.

Tell a person that something is his or her job and you may open a gate to a meadow or lock them in a narrow channel. Either way, they are likely to take the job seriously. [Granted, there are notable exceptions.]

While studying the Holocaust, I've often wondered about the extent to which so many people participated in the planning, construction, and operation of the death camps solely because it was their job. After all, those facilities had file clerks, secretaries, architects, builders, plumbers, engineers, electricians, lawyers, cooks, railway workers, and others who weren't involved in the bloodier part of the crime. A company supplied ink for the tattoos. Some architects designed the camp structures and lay-out. When you have a small part in the killing process, delusion and deniability are possible. You can tell yourself that your role is only a small part. If you are actually pushing people into gas chambers then your dodge is to say that you were following orders.

Much has been written about the Holocaust. A detailed analysis of the "indirect" participants is long overdue. 

Who is more evil: the guard patrolling the perimeter or the architect who drew up the plans?


Eclecticity said...

Thank you Michael. E.

Michael Wade said...


You are welcome.

It is a subject that should always be studied.


Troy Christiansen said...

Thank you very much for this post. I visited Auschwitz two years ago with a group of young people from the United States and it still bothers me. An entire industrial machine was dedicated to extermination. Your post presents very valid thoughts on who, why and how it could happen. - Troy

Michael Wade said...


I appreciate your comments.

This is a subject which can and should trouble us because the killing machine was put into motion in a very large part by otherwise normal people who should have known better.