Last week as I entered the bike path on my daily rollerblading foray I had to skirt a broken bottle, smashed into a zillion fragments. Then I saw an uprooted little tree, next a park boundary pole had been yanked up and hurled onto the asphalt.. and for the next 2 miles I bladed through the whirling destruction left by a very angry person. I too have felt that same level of anger. There was a time in my life as a new father with lots of pressure that intense emotion was boiling and seething just below the surface waiting for any small event to set it off. In traffic someone would cut me off and suddenly I was in a Walter Mitty nightmare, I am pulling the culprit out of the car, kicking biting, smashing and hurling him to the ground, stomping on him, wanting to kill…. then I surface out of it.. whoa, where did that come from. It came from my dark side.That dark side of all humans is well illustrated in new book called Hitlers Willing Executioners. It is another telling of the Holocaust but not of the elite SS troops or the masterminds of the Third Reich but it is the story of the common everyday German who actually carried out the murders of millions of their fellow beings. There were as many as a half a million “normal” Germans running the machinery of the Holocaust. They took their work seriously and even continued to kill even when their leaders said to stop. They actually brought their wives to watch them at their work. Without this complicity of the common folks, the Holocaust could not have happened.These were people not unlike you and me with an innate capacity for evil coupled with a moral justification for the elimination of the Jews. Now I admit that it is a huge step from uprooting a defenseless tree to shooting someone in the back, or from a violent daydream to driving a train full of concentration camp victims, or from supporting anti-immigration propositions to burning down synagogues, but a similar leap happened and it was not so very long ago.
This is Michael Ellis with a Perspective.