The informative aspects of what the German people and nation experienced in the lead-up to the horrors of war and destruction of the Jews do shed some light. From the Neo-neocon blog:
Cautionary words from Hitler’s Germany: They Thought They Were Free
[Every now and then I may post an excerpt from Milton Mayer’s They Thought They Were Free. The book, first published in 1955, is an exploration of Germans’ attitudes in the period leading up to WWII and including the war and its immediate aftermath. It features interviews with ten “typical” Germans, conducted a couple of years after the war’s end, and offers extraordinary and often relevant insights into how it was that Hitler came to power and stayed there so long. Here is my general discussion of the book and its author, who was a man of the left. To understand the following excerpt, it is helpful to know that for the purposes of the book, Mayer refers to the ten interviewees as his “friends.” ]
National Socialism was a repulsion of my friends against parliamentary politics, parliamentary debate, parliamentary government—against all the higgling and the haggling of the parties and the splinter parties, their coalitions, their confusions, and their conniving. It was the final fruit of the common man’s repudiation of “the rascals.” Its motif was “throw them all out.” My friends, in the 1920’s, were like spectators at a wrestling match who suspect that beneath all the grunts and groans, the struggle and the sweat, the match is “fixed,” that the performers are only pretending to put on a fight. The scandals that rocked the country, as one party or cabal “exposed” another, dismayed and then disgusted my friends…
While the ship of the German State was being shivered, the officers, who alone had life preservers, disputed their prerogatives on the bridge. My friends observed that none of the non-Communist, non-Nazi leaders objected to the 35,000 Reichsmark salaries of the cabinet ministers, only the Communists and the Nazis objected. And the bitterest single disappointment of Nazism…was the fact that Hitler had promised that no official would get more than 1,000 Reichsmarks a month and did not keep his promise.
My friends wanted Germany purified. They wanted it purified of the politicians, of all the politicians. They wanted a representative leader in place of unrepresentative representatives. And Hitler, the pure man, the antipolitician, was the man, untainted by “politics,” which was only a cloak for corruption…Against “the whole pack,” “the whole kaboodle,” “the whole business,” against all the parliamentary parties, my friends evoked Hitlerism, and Hitlerism overthrew them all…
This was the Bewegung, the movement, that restored my friends and bewitched them. Those Germans who saw it all at the beginning—there were not very many; there never are, I suppose, anywhere—called Hitler the Rattenfänger, the “ratcatcher.” Every American child has read The Pied-Piper of Hamlin. Every German child has read it, too. In German its title is Der Rattenfänger von Hameln